Chickpea, faba bean, lentil, common bean, field pea, mung bean, black gram, pigeon pea, cow pea, and grasspea are the major pulse crops produced globally. They specially play an important role in food and nutritional security and sustainable agricultural production systems in the drylands, which cover over 40% of the world’s land area and are home to approximately 2.5 billion people. These crops are the mainstay of agriculture and diets in these regions, constituting a major source of protein for billions. With an ever-growing health conscious population, the demand for pulses is increasing and so is the opportunity.
Pulses: Good for the Planet, Good for the People
Given the World Economic Forum’s recent assessment on water scarcity posing a significant risk to sustainable development goals, pulses may offer a part of the solution – pulses are efficient users of water and nutrients, offering more crop per drop in terms of protein and micro-nutrients. With prevailing child malnutrition at 27% in Africa and as much as 37% in India, the high-protein, micronutrient-rich caloric values of pulses offer the opportunity for eradicating malnutrition in challenging soil and climatic environments.
According to UNCCD, today 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by degradation of soil, a non-renewable resource. The worsening land degradation scenario is challenging sustainable food production, particularly in drylands where natural resources are scarce. Pulses have the ability to replenish soil nutrients through nitrogen fixation, making them valuable to improve production systems through crop rotation.
About the Conference
The International Conference on Pulses for Health, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture in Drylands is being held on the occasion of the 2016 International Year of Pulses to provide a platform to various stakeholders, including scientists, policy-makers, extension workers, traders and entrepreneurs, to discuss the various contributions of pulses to food and nutritional security and ecosystem health. Challenges ahead to driving greater production and benefits for all will be addressed with a focus on Central and West Asia, and North Africa. A roadmap will be developed for increasing productivity and profitability of pulses through diversification and intensification of cereal/livestock-based cropping systems.
The Conference, to be held April 18-20, 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco, is being organized by ICARDA, INRA (Morocco) and IFAD in partnership with FAO, OCP Foundation and CRP Grain Legumes. For members of Conference Steering Committees, see brochure.
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