- Pulses are on the global stage this year
- Health, nutrition and environmental sustainability all benefit from pulses
- Canada is the world's largest exporter of pulses. Exports are valued at $3 billion
“The United Nations promotes international awareness and action on various topics relating to global food security by creating international years such as the International Year of Pulses 2016,” says Allison Ammeter, the Canadian Chair of IYP. “IYP will recognize the contribution pulses make to health, nutrition and environmental sustainability, and aims to increase consumer awareness about the benefits of adding more pulses to their diets.”
2016 is International Year of Pulses, as designated by the United Nations, and the Canadian pulse industry is set to capitalize on that
Ammeter adds the year will also increase awareness about pulses and their benefits with governments and the food industry to support new demand and market opportunity for pulses.
“This increased demand will support sustainable and profitable growth of the Canadian industry well beyond 2016,” Ammeter says.
Grown in 173 countries, pulses are a source of income and nutrition for farmers around the world. In Canada, which is the largest exporter of pulses in the world, producers grow more than five million tonnes of peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils each year. They export them to over 150 countries, for a value of $3 billion.
“This impacts about 25,000 Canadian farmers, not to mention over 60 pulse processors and exporters,” Ammeter says.
Producers see benefits beyond the profits from the sale of pulses. There are also several advantages of growing pulses since these crops use bacteria in the soil to draw nitrogen in the air. This reduces, if not eliminates, the need to add nitrogen fertilizer. They also use less water than other crops, making them well suited to areas that are prone to drought.
“In addition, they produce a number of compounds that feed soil microbes and benefit soil health,” Ammeter says. “After pulse crops are harvested, they leave behind nitrogen-rich crop residues that provide extra nutrients for the next crop that is grown. Crops like wheat often grow better when they are planted after a pulse crop.”
During IYP, Canada’s pulse industry is planning a number of events and activities across the country to educate Canadians about the health, nutrition and environmental benefits of eating pulses.
The first official event of IYP in Canada took place on Jan. 6 in Toronto when the Food Network Canada’s chef Michael Smith hosted the celebration Pulse Feast in Toronto with prominent Canadian media, bloggers, chefs, dietitians, food industry and pulse industry members.
Other events include a travelling exhibit developed by the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, in partnership with Pulse Canada, titled Pulses: the Ideal Partner; information booth and onstage demonstrations at industry events; a IYP reception on Parliament Hill; workshops; and lunch and learn sessions.
An award-winning journalist, Trudy Kelly Forsythe operates Cultivating Communications, a communications company serving the agriculture industry, from her home in New Brunswick. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.