Wrapping up the International Year of Pulses
The 5 key messages to take away from #IYP2016
In 2016 we celebrated the International Year of Pulses and it is obvious why. Pulses are good for you, beneficial to farmers' livelihoods and have a positive impact on the environment. It is clear that even though dried beans, lentils and peas have been around for centuries, they will play a fundamental role in our sustainable future.
Even though #IYP2016 has come to an end, there is still much more to be done to promote the benefits of these nutritious seeds. Share the highlighted "Did You Know" facts on your Twitter profile to help keep the focus on pulses beyond 2016.
1. Pulses are highly nutritious
Pulses may be small but they are densely packed with protein, typically containing twice the amount of that found in whole grain cereals and three times that of rice. When other foods are combined with pulses, the nutritional value of pulses is further enhanced. For example, consuming cereals with pulses has the potential to increase the protein quality of the overall meal.
2. Pulses are economically accessible and contribute to food security at all levels
Pulses are an inexpensive source of protein - a crucial component of any healthy diet, but especially in poorer areas where meat, dairy and fish are economically inaccessible. Pulses can also serve as a source of income, as smallholder farmers who grow pulses can sell them at markets, or process them to create added-value products.
3. Pulses have important health benefits
When combined with food high in vitamin C, pulses’ high iron content makes them a potent food for replenishing iron stores, particularly for women at reproductive age, who are more at risk for iron deficiency anaemia. Pulses are also good sources of vitamins, such as folate, which reduces the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida in newborn babies. With a low glycemic index, low fat and high fibre content, pulses are suitable for people with diabetes.
4. Pulses contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation
Pulses are climate smart as they simultaneously adapt to climate change and contribute towards mitigating its effects. Introducing them into farming systems can be key to increasing resilience to climate change. There are many drought-resistant pulses, such as pigeon peas, bambara beans and lentils. These pulses can be cultivated in arid climates that have limited, and often erratic, rainfall of 300-450 mm/year.
5. Pulses promote biodiversity
Pulses are able to increase biodiversity as they can fix their own nitrogen into the soil, which increases soil fertility. The genetic diversity of these crops is an essential component for on-farm soil and pest management, especially for small-scale farmers. Intercropping with pulses increases farm biodiversity and creates a more diverse landscape for animals and insects.