Pulses for Human Nutritional Security
Pulses are an important source of protein for developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The reasons for low consumption of pulses include the fact that pulses have been regarded as “protein for the poor,” a lack of familiarity with the different types and their benefits, limited attractiveness, long cooking time, and limited pulse production. On the basis of average annual data for the period 2011–2013, about 5.8% of the world’s arable land area is occupied by pulses, which are grown mainly on less fertile and marginal land or as intercrops with cereals and oilseeds. Pulses have importance in contributing to food and nutritional security and in replenishing soil nutrients, with a huge potential to address needs such as future global food security, nutrition, and environmental sustainability. Shortfalls in pulse availability are mainly due to a lower seed replacement rate for improved varieties, poor adoption of technologies by farmers, climate change, pests, disease, and declining total factor productivity. In addition, biotic and abiotic stresses, lack of access to quality inputs, and limited industrial development have hampered improvements in the productivity of pulses, and expansion of pulse cultivation has been neglected. The high demand for pulses must be met by an increase in yield through strengthening of adaptive research, technology assessment, and refinement and transfer capabilities, so that the existing technology transfer gaps can be bridged. Pulses represent important economic opportunities to increase the income of large and small farmers and to reduce risk by diversifying their crops and income stream portfolio. Increased investment in research and development to improve productivity, and to make the information produced accessible to and understandable by farmers, is greatly needed. There is also a need for increased investment in breeding underutilized, high-quality varieties that are pest, disease, and climate resilient.
KeywordsLegumes Conservation tillage Food security Extrusion cooking Nitrogen fixation Fiber
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