Pulse promoters see opportunity in ‘international year’

Where potatoes and other crops have had their time on the world stage in the past decade, pulse crops will get the spotlight in 2016.

The United Nations’ General Assembly recently agreed to declare 2016 as the “International Year of Pulses,” following up on its similar declarations for rice (2004), the potato (2008) and quinoa (2013).

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the global pulse industry” Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada, the national association for pulse growers, traders and processors, said in a release last week.

“Beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas have been the cornerstone of global nutrition for centuries. Having a UN-dedicated year will raise the level of awareness of pulses and the important role they can play in health and nutrition, food security and environmental sustainability.”

Given rising rates of diabetes and obesity worldwide, an International Year of Pulses “presents an opportunity to recognize pulses for their exceptional potential to offer nutritional well being to people everywhere,” he said.

Further, he said, it “will also be an important occasion to learn about wonderful pulse culinary traditions, and to discover new ways to create healthier foods containing pulse ingredients in the future.”

Canada remains the world’s largest supplying nation for pulse crops, with annual exports reaching more than 150 countries.

The idea of a year dedicated to recognizing the role of pulses in sustainable agriculture and healthy diets was spearheaded by Hakan Bahceci, president of CICILS, the International Pulse Trade and Industries Confederation, Pulse Canada noted.

The resolution at the UN General Assembly, Bahceci noted, passed in part with the support of several countries, particularly Turkey and Pakistan, and of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

“This is the greatest opportunity in a century to give pulses the attention they deserve. Pulses can help increase food security for those with shortages and tackle the increase of diseases linked to lifestyle such as obesity and diabetes. Plus, they improve cropping systems and are good for farmers,” Bahceci said in Pulse Canada’s release.

Furthermore, “the International Year of Pulses will give pulses additional research attention and nutritional programming, which will lead to dietary uptake. Increased pulse consumption will grow both healthy people and a healthy planet.”

CICILS has set aside $1.1 million to fund activities related to the Year, Pulse Canada noted, and a series of national committees is being established around the world by CICILS members to work with governments, farmers, non-government organizations (NGOs), retailers, food manufacturers, health and science organizations and UN bodies “to make the year a success globally and in each country.”

Farmers themselves are singled out for notice in 2014, as the UN has declared this year to be the International Year of Family Farming, as well as the International Year of Crystallography and the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

Soils will then be in the spotlight, as the UN has also declared 2015 to be the International Year of Soils, along with the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. — AGCanada.com Network

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