2016 International Conference on Pulses for Health, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture in Drylands opened today.
April 18, 2016, Rabat, Morocco - The 2016 International Conference on Pulses for Health, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture in Drylands opened today in Marrakesh, Morocco. The conference schedule’s key feature included a first-of-its-kind high level panel discussion about enhancing policy frameworks that would enable targeted research in pulses for better nutrition and climate change adaptation through “sustainable intensification”, an approach linked to producing more food with less natural resources. Pulses are highly nutritious food legumes, often referred to as perfect food.
Representatives from top international agricultural organizations, including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Global Pulses Confederation, the OCP Foundation and the CGIAR Grain-Legumes Research Program discussed the importance of pulses for the global food security alongside policy-makers and leaders of national agriculture research organizations, scientists, private sector representatives, donors and farmers.
The panel resulted in a jointly stated goal by all participants to work together to “enhance political and financial investment in sustainable intensification of pulses”. Pulses, which are high in protein and form the bases of diets of millions would need an enabling policy environment to meet the current and future food security challenges as their consumption is estimated to increase by 23% in the next 15 years. Based on the estimated population in 2020 and 2030, and based on the last 10-year trend growth in global consumption, the demand for pulses for these two years would increase to 75.9 million tons in 2020, and 81.9 in 2030, from the current level of a little over 70 million. The panel concluded that “through improved policies and investments in pulses research, the rising global gap between the demand and supply of pulses could be bridged.”
“This pulses conference is truly an incredible knowledge exchange platform for all stakeholders in the pulses sector. The goal here is to foster dialogue and create business and research links throughout the entire pulses value chain. Of course, everything about pulses promotes their key attributes, which help countries around the globe – in improving soil fertility, nutrition, and health,” says Périn Saint Ange, Associate Vice-President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The panel also discussed subsistence farming in developing countries versus a market-driven approach in developed countries, as well as climatic conditions and the level of infrastructure development, which have resulted in wide variation in yields across countries. Some of the major factors affecting yield are climate change, soil conditions, varieties, investment in mechanization, irrigation, pest management and other farming methods.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Kingdom of Morocco, ICARDA is organizing the International Pulses Conference in collaboration with the Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA - Morocco), OCP, IFAD, the CGIAR Research Program on Grain-Legumes and FAO.
The conference is a part of the UN’s International Year of Pulses (IYP) events aimed at heightening public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production and food and nutrition security. About 300 participants are attending from all parts of the world for this three-day event, which ends on April 20, 2016.
Another goal of the conference is expand pulse research networks and boost their recognition by international donors. Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General of ICARDA, is clear on the possibilities, “This conference hopes to reinforce the South-South dialogue [collaboration between developing countries of the Southern Hemisphere] and science synergies, in particular with young scientists from pulses growing countries. Plus, we want to develop an improved image of pulses worldwide as climate resilient , nutrient rich, and environmentally friendly crops.” Solh, calls pulses “climate smart crops”, as they substantially contribute to soil health and water use efficiencies.
The UN is focusing in 2016 on three common types of pulses: beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Each have promising traits that have been gaining attention of governments around the world, including incredible water efficiency - 1kg of ‘daal’ (split peas or lentils) requires approximately 2 percent of the water it takes to produce 1kg of chicken and 0.04 percent of 1kg of beef. (Source: FAO).
“The UN’s International Year of the Pulses enables us to promote pulses via networking with media and gatekeepers; this conference is an integral part of the plan. With the media’s support, we can further develop pulses’ potential for improving food security and incomes, particularly for women, through exchange of scientific and market information,” states Riccardo Del Castello, Communication for Development Officer for the FAO.
The scientific program of the conference is structured around oral presentations from renowned scientists and researchers, university professors, and industry leaders from a variety of segments in the global pulses industry, representing almost 40 different countries.
Andrew Jacobs, Board Member of the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) and President of the Sustainable Agriculture Fund, states, “The pulse industry is now worth over USD $100 billion at the retail level, with over 60 million tons in pulse production and distribution in over 55 countries. The GPC represents the common good and encourages transparency for the entire pulses value chain - from growers and researchers, to input and logistics suppliers, traders, exporters and importers to government bodies, processors, canners and consumers. Our vision is to create an inclusive global pulse organization that can work to resolve issues and grow the industry.”
Key topics throughout the week are farming and industry issues, including global pulses market requirements and productivity management of pulses. Additionally, climate related issues, including soil health, environmental management, and increasing nitrogen fixation, plus global health, nutrition, and gender issues will be strongly represented. Lastly, innovations in pulses genomics, breeding, and biotic and abiotic stress management will be highlighted. Conference attendees will also participate in a field visit to view research experiments on pulse crops at the ICARDA/INRA Marchouch Research Station and on farmers’ fields.
The event can be followed online using #TalkPulses and at www.icarda.org/pulses
See the full Conference Program and Biographies