IYP Special Ambassadors take the stage in the Global Dialogue

The International Year of Pulses Global Dialogue, hosted from 22-23 November 2016 at FAO headquarters, featured interventions by the four appointed Special Ambassadors for the regions of North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and the Near East.

With their own unique professional trainings, personal stories, cultural backgrounds and inspirational touch, Joyce Boye, Patricia Mercedes Juarez Arango, Elizabeth Mpofu and Magy Habib discussed the outreach and advocacy strategies they have applied throughout the year in their respective regions. 

Joyce Boye, FAO special ambassador for the IYP for North America

Ms Boye highlighted the world’s current, still prevailing issue of food insecurity, particularly in view of climate change and world population growth.

Since her appointment, Ms Boye has communicated the favourable characteristics of pulses to various stakeholders in North America, emphasising the need for a 10-year pulse strategy.After having conducted extensive research on pulses, she strongly believes that the nutritious small seeds could be part of the solution to solve the problem of global hunger.

Additionally, she launched a Facebook event highlighting the benefits of pulses, and created a video sharing platform, inviting people to share their favourite pulse facts. She also worked to develop this pulse acrostic, in order to make it easier for people to remember the benefits of pulses. 

Ms Boye is convinced that the engagement of the youth plays an important role in moving the IYP forward.

Patricia Mercedes Juarez Arango, FAO special ambassador for the IYP for Latin America and the Caribbean

Ms Arango, an agronomist specialized in plant production, discovered her passion for agriculture and pulses when she first germinated a bean seed in primary school.

She emphasized that beans are at the core of a millenary tradition for Latin American people. Together with lentils and chickpeas, they are produced and widely consumed in the entire region. Mexico alone ranks 4th in world bean production and 8th in world chickpea production.

After her appointment as special ambassador, she participated in several events in the region, including the World Food Day celebration in Campeche, Mexico. As part of her outreach activities, she did a number of television and radio interviews (including UN Radio).

According to Ms Arango, the way forward is to inspire the youth to include more pulses in their diets.

Elizabeth Mpofu, FAO special ambassador for the IYP for Africa

Agro-ecological farmer and activist, Ms Mpofu has dedicated her life to working tirelessly for the betterment of smallholder farmers and the women’s rights.

As IYP special ambassador, she actively raised awareness on pulses in her country and in the region. She had a tight schedule of events throughout the year.

During these events, she had the chance to advocate pulses with representatives from governments, NGOs, academia, the private sector and farming communities.

She is convinced that the best way to promote pulses is by training smallholder farmers as pulse growers and teaching them how to process and conserve the nutritious seeds. Smallholders have to add value to pulses with the overall goal to improve their livelihoods and increase resilience to food and nutrition insecurity.

Ms Mpofu has also planned some future activities to promote the IYP beyond 2016, including food and seed fairs.

Magy Habib, FAO special ambassador for the IYP for the Near East and North Africa

Ms Habib is a leading chef on Egypt’s first cooking channel, CBC SOFRA, and her cooking goes beyond creating delicious recipes, straight to the heart of the ingredients and culture.

As a newly appointed IYP special ambassador, she started incorporating pulse-based recipes, which she presented in several colorful, mouth-watering cooking clips, highlighting the various pulse dishes the programme offered throughout the year.

To further promote advocacy of pulses, Ms Habib has created a special pulse calendar on the programme fan page of Facebook with daily posts on pulses. She found that common recipes received higher ratings than creative, gourmet-like ones, and therefore decided to follow the strategy of integrating pulses into traditional recipes.

In order to change the widespread belief that pulses are poor people’s food, Ms Habib has successfully convinced a high-end 5 star hotel in Cairo to add pulse-based dishes to their menu. Ms Habib is determined to continue advocating for pulses beyond 2016.

Reports from Europe and Asia-Pacific

In conclusion, Riccardo del Castello, FAO’s focal point of the IYP 2016 Secretariat, extended warm greetings on behalf of the two IYP Special Ambassadors Jenny Chandler, FAO Special Ambassador for the IYP Europe and Kadambot Siddique, FAO Special Ambassador for the IYP for the Asia-Pacific region, who were unable to attend the Global Dialogue due to other commitments.

Ms Chandler tirelessly promoted the IYP via radio and video interviews, cooking demonstrations at food festivals and by taking part at key regional events such as SIAL Paris - International Food Exhibition. She will also be giving a presentation at the FAO Symposium on Nutrition this December.

Professor Siddique published several articles, media statements and interviews promoting the IYP and participated in events such as the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia’s annual show, where he gave a presentation to almost 50 key opinion leaders in the agricultural sector.

FAO is grateful for the work the IYP special ambassadors have done – and will keep doing – to endorse pulses and to make the legacy of the year lasting and influential.