International Year of Pulses – Regional Dialogue for Europe and Central Asia

The International Year of Pulses (IYP) Regional Dialogue for Europe and Central Asia took place under the title Nutritious seeds for a sustainable future at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, from 12 to 13 October 2016.

The dialogue, organized by FAO and Sapienza with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Government of Turkey, the Global Pulse Confederation and Fertitecnica Colfiorito, is part of a series of regional dialogues aimed at enhancing local and regional discussions on the key role of pulses.

With 80 participants from 15 countries, the dialogue was an extraordinary opportunity to address some of the most pressing issues of the pulses sector in the Europe and Central Asia Region. Technical experts and representatives from governments, international organizations, research institutions, smallholder farmers’ organizations and the private sector were engaged in a lively multisector discussion.

Activities included plenary sessions, parallel working groups, an open space where participants could present their own work and a side event open to university students aimed at involving a wider audience and mainstreaming the IYP.

During the two days, participants identified effective ways and concrete actions to promote pulses production and consumption in the region.

There is a strong need to increase production. The share of area under pulses is 2% in Europe and 1% in Central Asia - a very low percentage compared to the respective 75% and 80% under cereals*. In order to increase production, participants agreed on the necessity to invest in basic and applied research and development of productivity stabilization, mechanization as well as harvest and post-harvest technology. Additionally, it is crucial to rebuild the link between researchers and farmers, involving the latter in the work of research institutions such as participatory breeding.

An increase in consumption levels is crucial. The development of educational tools and programmes for children and schools is essential to promote the innovation of healthy pulses and pulse-based products as well as simple pulses recipes and the revival of traditional recipes.

In this context, the food industry can play an important role. For example, Fertitecnica Colfiorito, a legume distributer, is investing in research and developement of pulses based products such as snacks – chickpeas, beans lentils and peas flakes - and quick cooking salads and soups.

Policies are key to mainstreaming pulses in the region. The approach should not only be based on incentives for producers, but instead it should be holistic and geographically targeted, taking into account the differences between countries and regions. Moreover, policies should seek to promote agroecological practices and expand their focus beyond an increase in production and consumption.

Along with the others IYP regional dialogues, the outcomes of this dialogue will provide regional overviews of the opportunities, challenges and existing policy environments which currently support or hinder the promotion of pulses. Regional overviews will be addressed at the IYP Global Dialogue scheduled at FAO Headquarters at the end of 2016.


*Source: Shiv Kumar, ICARDA