Q. Mention the advantages of the cultivation of pulses because of which the year 2016 was declared as the International Year of Pulses by United Nations.
A. As per FAO , “ Pulses are a type of leguminous crop that are harvested solely for the dry seed. Dried beans, lentils and peas are the most commonly known and consumed types of pulses.
Pulses do not include crops which are harvested green (e.g. green peas, green beans)—these are classified as vegetable crops. Also excluded are those crops used mainly for oil extraction (e.g. soybean and groundnuts) and leguminous crops that are used exclusively for sowing purposes (e.g. seeds of clover and alfalfa)”.
The 68th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had declared year 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP).
Objective of IYP was to increase the increase the public awareness about the nutritional protein power and health benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.
Pulses contribute to food security in a number of ways. First, they represent an important source of food. Second, they can be a source of income for the farmer, simply by selling some of what has been produced.
The possibility of further processing or value addition may be another source of revenue while also generating employment opportunities. Pulses also offer a great potential to lift farmers out of rural poverty, as they can yield two to three-time higher prices than cereals, and their processing provides additional economic opportunities in food processing industries, especially for women.
The crop residues can be fed to livestock. When pulses residue mixed with animal feed, it reduces methane emission from ruminants. Pulses have less carbon foot print than other crops
Pulse crops are important components of production systems that are resilient to climate change. Being leguminous plant, they impact the environment positively due to their nitrogen-fixing properties. Nitrogen fixing properties improve the soil fertility. Reduces cost of artificial fertilizers, and prevents resultant soil pollution. So they are mainly grown on rotational basis with other crops and need less manuring.
Including pulses in intercropping farming systems and cultivating them as cover crops not only reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers, but also helps reduce soil erosion, (thus contributing) to the creation of healthy soils. This, in turn, supports a broader range of insects and “wildlife” above ground and in the range of bacteria and fungi in the soil. The presence of this broader range of insects and microbial life provides for a more resilient “ecosystem” that helps keep harmful insects, diseases and pathogens in check, thus reducing the need (to) use pesticides.
The reduced need for synthetic fertilizers indirectly reduces the level of greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere.
Pulses are water efficient crops. Can be cultivated in arid and poor soil.
Can be stored for months without losing nutritional value or selling price.
Pulses are also rich in micronutrients, amino acids and b-vitamins, which form a vital part of a healthy diet. They are low in fat and rich in nutrients and soluble fibre and are also excellent for managing cholesterol and digestive health, and their high iron and zinc content makes them a potent food for combating anaemia in women and children.
In addition to contributing to a healthy, balanced diet, pulses nutritional qualities makes them particularly helpful in the fight against some noncommunicable diseases. Pulses can help lower blood cholesterol and attenuate blood glucose, which is a key factors in against diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Pulses have also been shown to be helpful in the prevention of certain cancers, because of their fibre content but also because of their mineral and amino-acid contents, in particular folate.
Pulses are included in all ‘food baskets’ and dietary guidelines. The World Food Programme (WFP) for instance includes 60 grams of pulses in its typical food basket, alongside cereals, oils and sugar and salt.
India is the world largest pulses producer accounting for 27-28 per cent of global pulses production. Hence ; the economic benefits .
Encouraging awareness of the nutritional value of pulses can help consumers adopt healthier diets. In developing countries, where the trend in dietary choices tends to go towards more animal based protein and cereals, retaining pulses is an important way to ensure diets remain balanced and to avoid the increase in non-communicable disease often associated with diet transitions and rising incomes.
Scientists at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) are currently working on the development of pulses which should be able to grow at temperatures above the crop’s normal “comfort zone”. Since climate experts suggested that heat stress will be the biggest threat to bean production in the coming decades, these improved pulse varieties will be of critical importance, especially for low-input agricultural production systems.