Back in November, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization launched the International Year of Pulses (IYP) for 2016. The IYP 2016 aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production highlighting food security and nutrition. Pulses such as: dry beans, dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas play an integral role in global food security, nutrition, human health, and environmental sustainability.  This 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.

Canada is a world leader in pulse production and exports.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Canada is the world’s largest producer of dry peas and lentils, and pulse exports from Canada account for slightly more than one third of all global pulse trade. Seventy-three percent of Canada’s pulse production comes from right here in Saskatchewan!

IYP is an opportunity to help increase domestic and global demand for pulses, which helps shape the direction of the pulse industry in Canada. Canadian consumers will benefit from a better understanding of pulse health, nutrition, and sustainability attributes. Increased consumption of pulses is linked to improved nutrition and health outcomes. Increased production of pulses in Canada means a reduction in on-farm energy use, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved soil health.

IYP highlights the role of pulses in addressing issues related to over and under nutrition in both developed and developing countries. Canadian pulses can make a significant contribution toward helping the UN implement its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to eliminate global poverty and malnourishment.

With over 800 million people suffering globally from acute or chronic undernourishment, and the occurrence of diet-related diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease increasing in countries around the world, IYP 2016 aims to demonstrate the integral role these nutrient-dense foods have in global food security and nutrition.

IYP is a truly global event. Pulse Canada and its international counterpart, the Global Pulse Confederation, are working with partners including international governments, the UN, and scientists to host over a hundred events around the globe in 2016. Canada’s pulse industry is also planning over twenty events and activities across the country that will educate Canadians about the health, nutrition, and environmental benefits of eating pulses.