By Olamide Tejuoso
Black, brown, green, red, white and more; pulses as a global food ought to be celebrated – as they are perfect to eat and healthy to grow. Thanks, to farmers from the sub Saharan Africa to Europe and Latin America; we have them in different varieties and colours all over the world! World Pulses Day, often celebrated every February 10 could be said to be the first important commemorative day in the field of agriculture annually. The theme for the last edition, celebrated in 2023, as virtual global gathering, was ‘Pulses for a Sustainable Future’.
History has it that, the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 20, 2018, proclaimed the celebration day, in order to recognise the importance of pulses to humanity, animals and the environment. The first evidence of pulses is said to have come from 11,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East, which was home to some of the earliest human civilisations. Since then, Pulses have remained and taken their place in the grain world. Pulses are are harvested annually and could yield between one and 12 grains or seeds. The term “pulses” is limited to crops harvested solely as dry grains, which differentiate them from other vegetable crops that are harvested while still green. Pulses are significantly helpful in making soups, salads, entrees and dessert! In fact, they are just indispensable in our meals! What would have become of our diets without pulses!
Pulses, though sometimes referred to as legumes, due to their low water footprint, drought tolerance, higher profit margin and resistance to climate related-disasters, have improved resilience of farming systems. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, World Pulses Day presents a unique opportunity to raise public awareness about pulses and the fundamental role they play in the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind. These crop type are the edible seeds of leguminous plants cultivated for both food and feed. Some popular pulses are: beans, soy beans, cowpeas, chickpeas, dry beans, lentils, vetches, bambara, dry peas and lupins. Pulses have a whole lot to offer the world and here are five significant points to note about them:
1. Pulses are efficient in reducing risk of heart attack. People, who consume foods that contain all types of nutrients like pulses and legumes, have fewer chances to suffer from cardiovascular problems. They are very nutritious, with less amount of fat and cholesterol. Pulses prevent cholesterol-based heart diseases, as the high potassium and a low amount of sodium present in the pulse help regulate blood pressure.
2. Pulses are rich in highly fermentable fiber. In other words, they feed intestinal bacteria and promote the assimilation of nutrients and proper immune system functioning.
3. Pulses are wonder foods for both human and environmental health. They are a vital and generally inexpensive source of protein. They are said to contain about twice the amount of protein found in whole grain cereals.
4. Pulses are full of vitamins and minerals that can help prevent diseases like diabetes and coronary conditions. The contain considerable amounts of zinc, folate, and magnesium needed for meals.
5. Planet-wise, pulses are good for soil health, and many are also drought-resistant and climate-resilient, as their genetic diversity help them adapt to changes in climate. Also, the nitrogen-fixing properties of pulses can improve soil fertility, which improves and extends the productivity of farmlands. Increased farm biodiversity and a more varied environment for animals and insects are made possible by inter-cropping pulses. Welcome to the world of Pulses!