2016 is the International Year of Pulses.

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) (A/RES/68/231)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been nominated to facilitate the implementation of the Year in collaboration with Governments, relevant organizations, non-governmental organizations and all other relevant stakeholders.

International Year of Pulses 2016

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The IYP 2016 aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.

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The Year will create a unique opportunity to encourage connections throughout the food chain that would

  • better utilize pulse-based proteins,
  • further global production of pulses,
  • better utilize crop rotations and
  • address the challenges in the trade of pulses.

Five things we learned from the launch of the International Year of Pulses | FAO

2016, the Year and the Pulsating  India

Dal (pulses of many kinds  is  the fuel which keeps India and Indians ticking. “Whether you’re hungry, tired or depressed, a steaming bowl of dal will set you right.”

From birth to marriage to death, if you are Indian, there is no escaping dal, the humble lentil which signifies life itself. Dal is one of the first solid foods a baby is fed and it is part of the funeral rituals when life ends and the soul takes flight. In fact, you cannot even get married without dal! A Tamil phrase – “paruppu illaada kalyanamaa?” puts it succinctly: “How can there be a wedding without dal?”

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“Dal Roti” bread and pulses  is an expression for basic needs and “Dal -Chawal ” (rice and pulses) is a favourite meal, especially in Punjab. There’s a Hindi saying – ‘Dal, dal bacheray pal’– dal, the Nurturer of Children.

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While rice and wheat have been primary foods, dals are also an ancient food.

The mighty Tirupati temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara gives out thousands and thousands of laddus as prasadam every day made out of urad dal, sugar and nuts.

The channa dal served in the mahaprasadam at the famous Jagganath Temple of Orrisa to over a lakh of devotees a day along with other foods, is particularly well-known.

What is Gujarati food without the soft and tasty Dhokhlas. How will South Indians survive without  vadas and dosas?

According  to Lavina Melwani  the New York based author of Indian origin

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“cooked with herbs and spices, it can be poetry for the soul, and when simmered in the Moghlai way with cream and butter, it is a meal fit for emperors”.

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Dal: Sustainer of Life

India is the world’s largest producer and the largest consumer of pulses.

Pakistan, Canada, Burma, Australia and the United States, in that order, are significant exporters and are India’s most significant suppliers.

Canada now accounts for approximately 35% of global pulse trade each year. The global pulse market is estimated at 60 million tonnes.

What are pulses and why are they important?

Pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding between one and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod, used for both food and feed.

The term “pulses” is limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain, thereby excluding crops harvested green for food, which are classified as vegetable crops, as well as those crops used mainly for oil extraction and leguminous crops that are used exclusively for sowing purposes (based on the definition of “pulses and derived products” of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

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Pulse crops such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a critical part of the general food basket.  Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer; they are also an important source of plant-based protein for animals.

Pulses Increase Soil Fertility

In addition, pulses are leguminous plants that have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment.

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The IYP website will be the main platform to share information and relevant resources with different partners. The current version will be updated soon, please come back for more information.

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Oilseeds & pulses Oilseeds and pulses are staple foods for millions of poor people in developing countries, and are these days developing an even more important role as cash crops. The most important crops in these categories are oilpalm, beans (soybean, cowpeas, broad beans, red beans) and groundnuts.

Oilseeds and pulses add important nutritional value to the diet by high quality protein and/or vegetable oil, together with oil soluble vitamins like vitamin A. The postharvest practices for most of the seeds and beans consists of threshing, shelling or podding and drying, after which the product can be stored like grains. Critical in the drying and storage process is the prevention of contamination with fungi and  aflatoxin.

After the on-farm post-harvest operations the products find ready markets to consumers and/or the agro-processing industry. In addition to the primary products, oilseeds and pulses produce significant quantities of by-products or ‘wastes’, like shells, fibres, pods, which can be used as fuel or animal feed.

FAO supports the farmers in their postharvest operations by technology development and dissemination, training in quality management and marketing, and utilization of by-products.

Dals, better known as pulses or lentils, grow and are dried on the vine before being hulled and split, providing the building blocks for many fulfilling meals. They are part of the legume family which also consists of beans and peas.

United Nations Official Document