Stories tagged: international year of pulses

Huseyin Arslan: The Importance of Global Standards to Facilitate the Food Trade

In this guest post, Huseyin Arslan, President of the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) outlines the trade challenges facing the pulse industry, and how they can be addressed.

Trade, and policies that enable trade, are critical for many reasons. They help to reduce poverty, advance sustainable economic growth, support jobs, raise living standards, enhance food security, and help people everywhere get accessible safe, affordable, nutritious food.

Market access issues are some of the most important obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 2 to end hunger. Many of the world’s farmers, including the smallest, depend on the ability to trade their produce and purchase food; in fact they are the largest single net buyers of food. Continue reading

Winning Innovators Pitch Pulse Products at IFT2016

Innovators from all over the world won the chance to present their unique pulse-based products at the Institute of Food Technologists Expo in Chicago this week.

The Global Pulse Confederation, a Farming First supporter via the International Agri-Food Network designed the “LovePulses Produce Showcase” competition to discover a new wave of pulse products for the market, in celebration of the International Year of Pulses.  Continue reading

LovePulses Product Showcase at IFT 2016

19th July 2016

Chicago, Illinois

The LovePulses Product Showcase demonstrates the innovative potential and versatility of pulse ingredients.

In honour of the United Nations designation of 2016 as the International Year of Pulses, countries around the world held competitions encouraging the development of food products containing pulses as core ingredients. The LovePulses Showcase at IFT 2016 will feature some of the top innovations created by individuals and teams of students and professionals from all corners of the globe, giving them the chance to pitch their products to investors.  Read more >>

Edouard Nizeyimana: Purchasing Pulses to Support Women Producers

What does one bag of beans mean in the global effort to end hunger? It turns out, a lot. 2016 is the International Year of Pulses. It is also the first full year in which we are officially working toward the Sustainable Development Goals, which set an ambitious but attainable target to end hunger by 2030. An important part of this is improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers – especially women. We have found a way of doing this that also strengthens resilience and improves nutrition: buying more beans and peas.

As the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, the World Food Programme (WFP) reaches an average of 80 million people each year with life-saving food assistance. We also work to eradicate the root causes of hunger; one way we do this is by sourcing our food in ways that build stronger and more inclusive food systems.

In 2008, we launched Purchase for Progress (P4P) to explore how to source food more directly from the small-scale farmers. Purchasing earlier in the supply chain means a great deal of logistical challenges. To address these we have worked with a wide variety of partners, especially host governments and other United Nations agencies – such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – to help farmers produce more, reduce their post-harvest losses and work together as businesses capable of dealing with everything from formal contracts to transportation. To date we have purchased over US$190 million worth of food from smallholder farmers, and have a goal to purchase 10 per cent of all our food within the next three years.

Sample types and qualities of pulses used at a training session in Ghana. Copyright: WFP

Sample types and qualities of pulses used at a training session in Ghana. Copyright: WFP

Supporting women farmers

These are all major steps toward forging more sustainable and inclusive food systems. But food systems must be inclusive not only of smallholder farmers in general, but women farmers in particular. Women farmers play a crucial role in agriculture – especially food production. But women’s labour is often invisible, unpaid and undervalued, and they usually have less access to productive assets than men. Plus, in many households, decisions about the production and marketing of crops are made by men. This leaves women providing a great deal of labour without reaping the rewards, and without the economic and social empowerment that comes with financial stability.

Our focus on supporting women farmers under P4P has taught us a great deal. We have helped women to access time and labour-saving equipment, such as cattle and mechanical shellers, to lighten their workload. We have also carried out awareness-raising efforts on the importance of gender equality, and held training to teach them to read and to increase their confidence. We have seen women’s participation in membership and leadership positions increase.

Despite progress made, we still face challenges ensuring that women are able to market the crops they produce. During the pilot implementation of P4P, it was discovered that one of the keys to unlocking women’s potential to participate in sales was a simple one: changing which crops we purchase.

Niébé is a local form of cowpea largely farmed by women in West Africa. Copyright: WFP/Eliza Warren-Shriner

Niébé is a local form of cowpea largely farmed by women in West Africa. Copyright: WFP/Eliza Warren-Shriner

Purchasing pulses

In many places, decisions about who produces and markets which crop are made based upon traditional gender roles. For example, in some parts of West Africa, maize and sorghum are considered “men’s crops”, while women produce pulses like cowpeas, beans and pigeon peas. Initially we were buying “men’s crops,” but we listened when women told us that they wanted a way of diversifying their incomes to provide additional benefits for their families.

In West Africa, a local variety of cowpea called niébé is frequently produced by women farmers on small plots for household consumption. Niébé is difficult for smallholders to produce for sale – the seeds can be costly and storing them is challenging as they are prone to infestation. But with training from WFP and partners, farmers are now better able to produce niébé commercially. In some countries, women were provided with Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) bags which are a cost-effective solution to reduce infestation in cowpeas. In Ghana, multiplication efforts have brought down the cost of seeds.

Many benefits

In Burkina Faso, 96% of participants in cowpea sales to WFP are women. Azeta Sawadogo is one of the farmers who have benefitted – achieving her lifelong dream to own a bicycle.

Azeta poses with the bike she was able to purchase thanks to her niébé sales. Copyright: WFP


I feel proud of myself and the group of women I work with in our decision to sell cowpeas to WFP. We are now admired in the village because even male heads of households do not own a bicycle

In Zambia, almost half of the pulses used in school meals come from women farmers’ organizations. These women are looking beyond WFP to a variety of other buyers. With their increased incomes, they can invest in building new houses and sending their children to school.

And pulses have many other benefits. Pulses are high in nutritional value – and in some cases, efforts to strengthen agricultural production of pulses have been coupled with nutrition-sensitive messaging – teaching farmers such as Awa Tessougué the importance of eating niébé at home for improved nutrition. Pulses are also resilient and environmentally friendly – they are generally drought-resistant and “fix” nitrogen in soil, meaning that they return the nutrients to the soil that can be stripped by the production of other crops.

In building inclusive and effective food systems we must provide women with the tools to take part fully in decision-making processes. In doing so, we must listen to their needs and desires, and continue to learn better ways of supporting them to benefit from their agricultural work. There are many potential solutions to the challenges women face, and a great deal more work to be done. Purchasing more pulses may be only one of these solutions, but each bag of cowpeas is a good start.

Hakan Bahceci: Making 2016 a Breakout Year for Pulses

In this guest post, Hakan Bahceci, CEO of Hakan Foods and Former Global Pulse Confederation President, explains why everyone should be talking about pulses in 2016.

An ancient group of crops is being reborn. 2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses, and will celebrate the humble beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas that despite being part of one of the oldest crop groups to be farmed, have fallen out of fashion in some parts of the world and become marginalised in agricultural and development policies

07For the last five years, poor monsoons have impacted pulse production. In addition, El Niño and other climate change impacts, subsidies on cereals over pulses, and lack of research budgets, have all taken their toll.

Yet pulses can be a major weapon in the fight against many of the most urgent challenges the global population faces, from malnutrition and hunger, to climate change, water scarcity and land degradation.  Continue reading

Video: Why We Need an International Year of Pulses

Today marks the official launch of the International Year of Pulses 2016. But why are beans, peas and lentils being put in the spotlight?  There are many reasons – and Farming First TV spoke to Tim McGreevy, CEO of the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council to hear them. Continue reading