The UN General Assembly (UNGA) designated 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP 2016), with the aim of enhancing public awareness of the nutritional and food security benefits of pulses and their contribution to sustainable food production and the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers.
Officially launched on 10 November 2015 and coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the year-long celebrations will include 10 ‘Signature Events' around the world, the launch of a global pulses database, and commemoration of World Soil Day 2016 on the theme ‘Soils and pulses: symbiosis for life.'
March 2016: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) designated 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP 2016), with the aim of enhancing public awareness of the nutritional and food security benefits of pulses and their contribution to sustainable food production and the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers. Officially launched on 10 November 2015, and coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the year-long celebrations will include 10 ‘Signature Events’ around the world, the launch of a global pulses database, and commemoration of World Soil Day 2016 on the theme ‘Soils and pulses: symbiosis for life.’
On February 24, the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), part of the CGIAR Consortium, launched its Global Pulses Research Platform in partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Government of India. A key objective of the platform is to promote and expand the cropping of lentils in rice fallows – an approach to intensifying crop production while enabling sustainable cropping systems. Approximately 11.7 million hectares were left fallow for period of time in 2015, constituting over a fourth of India’s total rice area, and researchers estimate that at least three million hectares of this total area can be converted to pulse production. In November 2016, research organizations involved in the project will convene an international conference on nutritional security and agricultural sustainability in New Delhi, India, that will serve as the signature IYP 2016 event for the South Asian region.
Convened as the signature IYP 2016 event for Africa, the Joint World Cowpea and Pan-African Grain Legume Research Conference, held from 28 February to 4 March 2016 in Livingstone, Zambia, addressed the theme ‘Sustainable Grain Legume Systems for Food, Income, and Nutritional Security in a Rapidly Changing Climate.’ A key objective of the meeting, which was attended by around four hundred academics, non-governmental organizations and scientists, was to address the low priority for pulses in agricultural research and development, and to harness the potential of grain legumes in achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that address hunger, health, sustainable production and consumption, climate and land. The conference was convened by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the Feed-the-Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Grain Legumes, in collaboration with major international agricultural research organizations, development partners and sponsors.
The IYP 2016 regional event for Central America will be organized under the auspices of the Cooperative Program for Crops and Animal Improvements and will take place from 5-8 April in San José, Costa Rica. A key focus of the meeting is to promote the production and consumption of beans, as one of the most important sources of protein in Latin America and the Caribbean, and a major contributor to employment and social and economic stability of smallholder farmers and rural communities.
The other IYP 2016 signature events include: the Pulses Conclave held in Jaipur, India, from 17-20 February 2016; the INRA Meeting on Grain Legumes in Dijon, France, taking place from 31 May to 1 June; the International Conference on Pulses in Dryland Areas in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 18-20 April; the World Pulses Convention in Izmir, Turkey, from 19-22 May; the Australian Pulse Conference in Tamworth, Australia, from 12-14 September; the 2nd conference of the International Legumes Society from 12-14 October in Troia, Portugal; and ‘Little Beans, Big Opportunities: Realizing the Potential of Pulses to Meet Today’s Global Health Challenges’ taking place in New York, US, on 19 November.
In order to address the lack of globally standardized data on the levels of micronutrients, macronutrients and phytochemicals in pulses, and as one of the main outcomes of IYP 2016, FAO is developing the FAO/INFOODS Global Food Composition Database for Pulses. The database will promote the production and consumption of pulses, while also opening up opportunities to address micronutrient deficiencies and incorporate pulses into nutrition and agriculture policies and guidelines. The database will be structured around two main sections: the first will contain a repository of existing analytical data taken from more than 22,000 scientific articles and other sources such as unpublished laboratory reports that will be published in the FAO/INFOODS Food Composition Database for Biodiversity and the FAO/INFOODS Analytical Food Composition Database. The second part will be a user-friendly interface showing the complete nutrient profile, including 28 nutrients and amino acids, of different types of pulses.
Other IYP 2016 activities include: a year-long UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Club Serres campaign, also marking UNESCO’s 70th anniversary, where students and teachers are invited to implement educational activities dedicated to IYP 2016, and a Global Soil Partnership (GSP) event exploring the contribution of soils and pulses to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. National-level activities include a “first-of-its-kind travelling exhibition” organized by the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum and Pulse Canada to raise awareness about pulses; and diverse food festivals and pulse product launches in Australia.
The IYP 2016 website contains diverse awareness raising materials including pulse-based recipes, promotional leaflets and posters, infographics and social media resources, and a blog highlighting the latest initiatives in pulses research and development, as well as consumer information from around the world. FAO has also produced a short video outlining unique opportunities for pulses to contribute to the future of food security.
Through its resolution 68/231 of December 21, 2013, UNGA declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) and nominated the FAO to facilitate implementation of the year in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders. The specific objectives of IYP 2016 are to: raise awareness about the important role of pulses in sustainable food production and healthy diets and their contribution to food security and nutrition; promote the value and utilization of pulses throughout the food system, their benefits for soil fertility and climate change and for combating malnutrition; and encourage connections throughout the food chain to further the global production of pulses, foster enhanced research, better utilize crop rotations and address the challenges in the trade of pulses. [IYP 2016 Website] [IYP 2016 Calendar of Events] [Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference Website] [The FAO/INFOODS Food Composition Database for Pulses] [IYP 2016 Website of the Global Pulse Confederation] [IYP 2016 Website of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes] [CGIAR Press Release: Science to offer strategic solutions to India’s pulses dilemma] [Canada Agriculture and Food Museum exhibition] [IYS 2016 Australia Website] [UN Press Release on Launch of IYP 2016: November 2015] [FAO Video: What are pulses and why are they important crops for food security] [IISD RS Sources]