Wednesday, 6 January 2016

ACIAR feasts on all things pulses

This year has been declared the International Year of Pulses (IYP2016) and today ACIAR hosted a Pulse Feast in Canberra to officially kick start the celebrations.

ACIAR staff gathered around to enjoy a tasty lunch that was all about pulses. Some of the delicious dishes on offer included paneer and kidney bean curry, chickpea bread, Tibetan dal, chickpea and spinach curry, pea and ham soup, lentil brownies and chickpea cookies.

A plate of pulses. Source: ACIAR

Pulses, also known as grain legumes, are a group of 12 crops that includes dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. They are most popular in developing countries, but are increasingly becoming recognised as an excellent part of a healthy diet throughout the world.

Dessert - Chickpea cookies (left) and lentil brownies. Source: ACIAR
So why all the fuss about pulses?
  • They are high in protein, fibre, and various vitamins, provide amino acids, and are hearty crops.
  • Pulse crops are one of the most sustainable crops a farmer can grow. It takes just 43 gallons of water to produce one pound of pulses, compared with 216 for soybeans and 368 for peanuts. They also contribute to soil quality by fixing nitrogen in the soil.
  • Pulses are economically important crops for farmers, in both developing and developed countries. Pulses are traditionally mostly grown in developing countries, which contribute 70% of pulse production globally (except for dry peas).
  • In most developing countries, pulses play a fundamental role as a low-fat, high fibre source of protein, an essential component of traditional food baskets.
  • Pulses are locally adapted and can be grown by local farmers for their own nutrition as well as for sale, which is important to improve food security.
  • Pulses have a positive impact on soil quality because they help fix nitrogen in the soil. This contributes to higher yields in subsequent crop rotations.
Source: Global Pulse Confederation
IYP2016 aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition. The year will create a unique opportunity to encourage connections throughout the food chain that would better utilise pulse-based proteins, further global production of pulses, better utilise crop rotations and address the challenges in the trade of pulses.

To learn more about it, visit the official IYP2016 website

By Laura Carew, Corporate Engagement and Communication Officer, ACIAR

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