FAO Liaison Office in New York

From black-eyes peas to lentils: FAO and partners celebrate World Pulses Day in New York


Throughout the world, hundreds of varieties of pulses are grown – from dried beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and broad beans, to chickpeas, cowpeas, black-eyed peas and pigeon peas. Although they vary in flavour, in colour, in size, their high nutritional value and important role in soil health unites them.

The Food and Agriculture Organization Liaison Office with the United Nations in New York in collaboration with Emerging Ag Inc. held a virtual event to celebrate World Pulses Day. The event was co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Burkina Faso, Guyana and Malawi to the United Nations (UN).

“Pulses play a key role in achieving better food systems. They are a source of safe and nutritious food for all and also contribute to the sustainability of agricultural production systems. Today we celebrate the role of this diverse and versatile commodity in addressing food security and contributing to healthy diets,” said Beth Bechdol, FAO Deputy Director-General. These remarks were echoed by Munir Akram, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, who spoke about the role pulses can play in reducing poverty, promoting well-being of people and the planet, and achieving the far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Eric Tiare, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the UN, emphasized that in the Sahel, pulses should be adopted to spearhead food security and resilience, as we face climate change and its devastating effects. While referring to their nutritional value, Carolyn Rodrigues Birkett, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the UN, recommended to eat adequate amounts of pulses, as they are high in protein and fibre and contain important amounts of vitamins and minerals. Perks Ligoya, Permanent Representative of Malawi to the UN and Chair of the Least Developed Countries, reiterated that pulses are a gateway to the attainment of our Sustainable Development Goals.

The event included a panel discussion with chefs and representatives from food banks and the industry. The Head of Pea & New Proteins Business Line for Roquette, Jean-Philippe Azoulay kicked off this segment by noting that Roquette believes in improving the sustainability of our overall food system. On this day, Roquette also made a donation to Harvest Manitoba to support access to nutritious food for families living near the new Portage pea protein plant in Manitoba, Canada. Angela Frigo, Secretary General of the European Food Banks Federation affirmed that on this day, we want to recall pulses as an environmentally-friendly source of key nutrients helping to create an affordable, sustainable and nutrient secure present and future.

Pulses have many benefits, and these protein, fibre and mineral-rich leguminous crops are in the spotlight when they are featured in many dishes around the world. They are a part of the food culture, family traditions and diets of many people across the globe. Chef Ron Pickarski, President Eco-Cuisine, Inc., praised pulses as the unsung hero of whole foods plant-based protein, and said that they should be at the centre of our culinary innovation and centre of our plates. Chef Femi Rodney Frazer from Collective Fare emphasized their cultural value and explained how black-eyed peas are more than a New Year’s Eve staple – they are the power food of the African Diaspora. Chef Mokgadi Itsweng from South Africa added that beans and pulses are packed with protein, fibre, iron and nutrients and that they are good for our health and that of the planet.

The event concluded with a vivid Q&A session featuring interventions from the floor, and it was moderated by Cindy Brown, President of the Global Pulse Confederation. Robynne Anderson from Emerging Ag Inc. concluded the event by affirming that pulses are one of the most varied and exciting parts of a diverse, healthy, sustainable diet.

You can find more information on the event, including the agenda and a photo gallery, in our dedicated event page.

For more information on the World Pulses Day observance, visit the dedicated pages by the UN and FAO.