Nutritious Seeds for a Sustainable Future
In 2013, the UN proclaimed 2016 as the “International Year of Pulses” to raise awareness of pulses cultivation’s importance in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. The success of observation led to the UN adopting February 10 as World Pulses Day. The objective is to raise public awareness of pulses’ nutritional value and their importance as an integral part of a healthy diet.
Lentils are so much part of Indian cuisine. So many different Indian foods are made with lentils from Kichidi to Soups. Beans and lentils are a primary source of protein for many vegetarians. Not many young kids like lentils very much. It would be interesting to know the difference between lentils, beans and dals. Lentils are legumes shaped like a lens (wide in the middle and narrower at the ends). Beans, on the other hand, are larger.
The FAO recognises eleven primary pulses: dry beans (kidney beans, navy beans, lima beans, adzuki beans, mung beans, etc.), broad beans, dry peas, chickpea, dry cowpea, pigeon pea, lentil, bambara groundnut, vetch, lupins, and minor pulses. According to the FAO, the term “pulses” is solely applied to legumes that are harvested for dry grains.
Pulses have been an essential part of the human diet since ancient times. In addition to their high nutritional value and health benefits, pulses cultivation is economically advantageous for farmers and positively affects the environment. Farmers benefit from cultivating pulses because they are a multipurpose crop that can be both eaten and sold, creating economic stability. Besides, pulses have-nitrogen fixing properties, which improves soil fertility. Some pulses species can be cultivated in soils with low fertility.
Pulses cultivation is also beneficial for the environment for several reasons. Intercropping with pulses helps increase farm, and soil biodiversity and pulses have become an unexpected ally in climate change mitigation. Thanks to their nitrogen-fixing properties, farmers can use fewer synthetic fertilisers, indirectly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Pulses are a rich protein and dietary fibre, minerals and nutrients. They contain no cholesterol and are of low glycaemic index, making them an essential food item for vegetarians, and people with diabetes or gluten intolerance. Consuming cereals with pulses have the potential to increase the protein quality of the overall meal.
These crops’ genetic diversity is an essential component for on-farm soil and pest management, especially for small-scale farmers. Intercropping with pulses increases farm biodiversity and creates a more diverse landscape for animals and insects.
“India Pulses and Grains Association”, the nodal body for India’s pulses trade and industry, hosts the 3rd National Pulses Seminar on February 10-11, 2021 to coincide with the WorldPulsesDay.