The French National Agronomic Research Institute (INRA) organized a seminar on December 14 on the role of Pulses for Sustainable Agricultural and Food Systems. The seminar presented the various chapters of a book released in 2015 on the same topic, co-edited by Anne Schneider and Christian Huyghe. The book received contributions from over 60 experts and is aimed to provide a broad scientific review of the current knowledge on pulses in France with a particular focus on their roles as protein sources and in nitrogen management. It is the collective work of INRA, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and two associations Terres Inovia and Terres Univia. 

The seminar benefited from the presence of several of the chapter authors, leading pulse experts in France, who presented the main conclusions of their research efforts. 

Session 1: Overview and role in crop production
Pulses in French Agriculture , Anne Schneider
The Specifics of the Agro-Physiological Functioning of Pulses , Anne-Sophie Voisin
Agronomic performance and management of pulses in crop production , Marie-Hélène Jeuffroy

Session 2: Effects on the various facets and analysis scales
Zootechnical consequences, pulses for livestock feed, Jean-Louis Peyraud
Pulses for human consumption , Martine Champ
The environmental impacts in production systems, P. Cellier
The multi- analysis issues and socio- economic dynamics , Marie-Benoît Magrini

France is the smallest producer and consumer of pulses in Europe. It was added only in the past thirty years in the agricultural value chains but is still considered a minor crop with very little agricultural land dedicated to it, and most of it under organic agriculture practices. The majority of the production is also dedicated to livestock feed. Pulse production for feed and human consumption represent less than 2% of France’s arable areas and 1million tons of crops per year. Pulse human consumption is at only 1kg/person/year compared to 4kg in Canada. 

The book and the seminar both highlighted that pulse production and consumption should be stimulated because of the numerous benefits for the environment and for human nutrition and health. Systemic problems related to the lack of incentives for farmers, the high investment in wheat research and the low awareness among consumers explain the current situation of pulses. 

INRA and its partners hope that the International Year of Pulses will also contribute to share this situation. The Institute is organizing a series of scientific events in 2016 to encourage knowledge sharing, in particular the First Francophone Meeting on Pulses that will take place in Dijon from May 31 to June 1, 2016. 

For more information about the book:

"Les légumineuses pour des systèmes agricoles et alimentaires durables"
Editions Quae, collection Synthèses -512 p., 2015, 49,00 €, gratuit en publication numérisée. Sommaire sur le site de l'éditeur.