International Year of Pulses Current Affairs - 2019
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February 10, 2019, was celebrated as the first World Pulses Day. The Year 2016 was celebrated as International Year of Pulses to highlight the contribution of Pulses to sustainable food production and towards food security and nutrition. Building on the positive momentum of the International Year of Pulses, the UN General Assembly passed the resolution to celebrate 10 February as World Pulses Day to keep the positive momentum surrounding these healthy, nutritious, protein-rich, nitrogen-fixing legumes alive after the FAO’s successful 2016 International Year of Pulses Campaign.
What are the Pulses?
Pulses are a type of leguminous crops that are harvested solely for the dry seed and does not include crops that are harvested green (e.g. green peas, green beans). Dried beans, lentils and peas are the most commonly known and consumed types of pulses. Pulses include all varieties of dried beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and broad beans. Chickpeas, cowpeas, black-eyed peas and pigeon peas are also pulses, as are all varieties of lentils.
Significance of Pulses
Pulses are packed with nutrients and have a high protein content, making them an ideal source of protein particularly in regions where meat and dairy are not physically or economically accessible. Pulses are also low in fat and rich in soluble fibre, which can lower cholesterol and help in the control of blood sugar. Pulses also aid in combating obesity.
The nitrogen-fixing properties of pulses improve soil fertility, which increases and extends the productivity of the farmland. Pulses, when used for intercropping and as cover crops, promote farm biodiversity and soil biodiversity, while keeping harmful pests and diseases at bay. This enhances food security.
Climate change mitigation
Pulses contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing dependence on the synthetic fertilizers used to introduce nitrogen artificially into the soil. This reduced use of synthetic fertilizers will reduce greenhouse gas emissions during their production.
The 68th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has declared year 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP).
It was launched under the slogan ‘nutritious seeds for a sustainable future’. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of UN has been nominated to facilitate the implementation of the Year in collaboration with all stakeholders.
Aim of IYP 2016
- To 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.
- To boost their production and trade and encourage new and smarter uses throughout the food chain.
Some facts about Pulses
- Pulses crops are major source of plant-based proteins and amino acids in a vegetarian diet and greatly benefit people’s health.
- Being leguminous plant, they impact the environment positively due to their nitrogen-fixing properties, which increase soil fertility. So they are mainly grown on rotational basis with other crops.
- They are important food crops for the food security of large proportions of populations, particularly in Latin America, Africa and Asia as it is part of their traditional diets.
- They are often grown by small farmers and thus offer a great potential to lift farmers out of rural poverty.
- India is largest producer and as well consumer of pulses in India. Major pulses grown in India are tur (arhar), urad, moong, masur, peas and gram.
Thus, pulses can significantly contribute in addressing hunger, food security, malnutrition, environmental challenges and human health.