By loving pulses we strive to improve the quality of food and lifestyles of people around the world. Pulses are of high nutritional value in proteins, fibers and iron, making it essential for good health. Pulses are considered more environmentally friendly than other foods since the energy requirements and water usage to grow pulses are much lower than other crops. Pulses are nitrogen fixing crops that benefit the agricultural land they grow on making the land more fertile, thus making it more profitable for farmers. In addition, pulses play an important role in international trade due to the geographic distribution of pulse producing and consuming countries.
Every year, non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, account for millions of morbidities and mortalities worldwide. Risk factors for such diseases include genetics, exposure to air pollution and lifestyle choices such as unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. Most of these diseases are considered preventable because they are caused by modifiable risk factors.
Pulses have significant nutritional and health advantages for consumers. Pulses are very rich in nutrients and provide proteins, complex carbohydrates, several vitamins and minerals. Like other plant-based foods, they contain no cholesterol and little fat or sodium. Pulses also provide iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and other minerals, which play a variety of roles in maintaining good health.
For people with diabetes, pulses help with blood glucose management since pulses have a low glycemic index. Consuming pulses can help with weight management as pulses are high in fiber and protein, low in fat and moderate in calories. According to health experts, 1.5 cups of beans, peas or lentils per week is essential as a part of a 2000 calorie diet.
The world's population has increased from 5.2 billion people in 1990 to 7 billion people in 2014. Whilst the world's major crops have kept up with demand, they have direly strained the world's agricultural, energy and water resources. With world bio-diesel and ethanol productions expected to double in the next five years, global climate changes and not much arable land left to grow, the challenges to feed an extra 2.5 billion people by the year 2050 remains an enormous task for policy makers and governments.
Producing one kilogram of animal protein requires about 100 times more water than producing one kilogram of grain protein. To produce one kilogram of fresh beef, 13 kilograms of grain and 30 kilograms of hay are required, which in turn need 17,550 and 30,000 litres of water. And therefore, to ensure sustainability, educated and innovative solutions are required that entail life style adjustments for all sectors of the society; whereby society eats smart proteins which is found in pulses and legumes, improve yields of crops by using high yield seeds, manage water resources carefully, and make agritechnology available to small and marginal farmers.
The global pulse market is estimated at 60 million tons, worth about USD 100 billion dollars at retail level. Dry beans and broad beans represent about 41% of this tonnage, chickpeas 31%, peas 12%, and lentils 5%.
The average consumption per capita in the Indian sub-continent is at an average of 200 kilograms per person per year where the per capita income averages USD 1150 in India and USD 800 in Pakistan. The Middle East and North Africa represents 400 million people, however it consumes only 60 kilograms per person per year where the average income per person is USD 1600 in Egypt, USD 3200 in Algeria, USD 1700 in Syria and USD 2500 in Iraq.
There is an enormous potential to increase the consumption of pulses in the Middle East by creating further awareness, and thus help provide a cost effective, affordable, and nutrient dense diet to the region which has high growth rates in their populations.
Like many leguminous crops, pulses play a key role in crop rotation due to their ability to fix nitrogen, which helps in improving the soil's health. For example, when wheat is grown after other crops, 50 kilograms of nitrogen is required per hectare while none is required when it is grown after a pulse crop. Pulses have a lower environmental footprint than other crop types because of their water use effciency and ability to grow in zero tillage systems. Pulses also promote soil conservation and sustainable farming practices, because it can help reduce CO2 emissions from agriculture and it does not require nitrogen containing fertilizers that can contribute to the production of green house gases.