Pulses are a subgroup of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers to the dried edible seeds of these cultivated seeds. Pulses include dry beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas, green grams, dry peas, lentils and chick peas among others. Pulses can be prepared and consumed as soups/stews, deep fried, flour, baked or canned for their food value, nutrition and health benefits.
Global food security is currently a concern due to rapid increase in population, climate change and limited lands for cultivation, there is also an increasing interest in proteins from plant sources as opposed to animal protein for healthy living. In this regard, pulse crops can be exploited as sustainable, climate change resistant and high-quality healthy protein sources.[vc_custom_heading text=”The major roles of pulses in food security and sustainability are as follows” font_container=”tag:h4,text_align:left,color:%23ff6f00″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”]
Pulses are locally adapted to different areas and can be grown by Farmers for their own nutrition or for sale boosting income and reduce risks by diversifying crops and income portfolio.
Pulses make up 75 percent of the average diet of most households in developing countries compared to 25 percent in industrialized countries. They are an affordable alternative to animal protein, and can be found in dishes like falafel, daal, chili, and even baked beans. Pulses can be stored for months on end without losing their high nutritional value. This trait is particularly valuable for smallholder farmers who depend on the food they store between harvests
Sustainable agricultural and climate change mitigation
Pulses offer broad genetic diversity that allows for selection of climate resilient varieties in a world faced by rapid climate change. Pulses also improve soil quality by fixing nitrogen and they produce low carbon levels. Pulses enrich the soil rather than deplete it.
Pulses are drought-tolerant and hardy under frost conditions, making them suitable to a wide range of environments.
Pulses contain high levels of protein and amino acids which are the body building blocks. Pulses are rich in essential nutrients such as fiber, folate, calcium, iron, and vitamin C. This means they’re excellent for human health (particularly pregnant mothers) and young children as they offer a cheap and affordable source of protein and serve to prevent malnutrition. Pulses actually contain twice the amount of protein found in whole grain cereals.
Pulses contain high levels of fibre: Soluble fibre help decrease blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugars; Insoluble fibres helps with digestion by preventing such ailments like constipation and stomach discomfort.
Pulses contain no cholesterol and have low fat content and they help in fighting non-communicable diseases.
Soil Support and water requirements
Pulses are good for soil health. The ability of pulses to fix nitrogen boosts the productivity of farmland long term. Many pulses promote higher rates of accumulation of soil carbon than cereals or grasses, and have been used by farmers in intercropping for centuries. Pulses are also eco-friendly as they require no addition of synthetic fertilizers during their period of growth as the Nitrogen fixing ability is usually beneficial to the pulses and other crops
Apart from Pulses offering food, nutritional and healthy benefits they can be used as animal feeds for Pig, Goat, Sheep and cattle. Animals are fed on remains of the crop which in some cases improves the quality of resulting manure hence improving soil fertility and productivity leading to inclination towards food security.Pulse crops are very important in the fight against food insecurity and promotion for sustainable and climate resilient agriculture. One of the main limitations in this course is the regard of pulses as “a source of protein for the poor” creating a negative aspect that pulses are for the less fortunate, this just but a misconception.