Raising awareness about the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production.
Being a small island state means that Seychelles can face challenges around making sure the population has reliable access tosufficient, safe, and nutritious food. Linked to this vulnerability is the inequitable impact of climate change and its effects on the country’s food systems. World Pulses Day is celebrated on 10th February, giving us the opportunity to highlight the benefits of this superfood in terms of nutrition, food security, and the environment.
Pulses, nutritious seeds
Humans have been cultivating pulses since the dawn of agriculture, and they were one of the first plants in the world to be domesticated. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the lead agency for World Pulses Day, pulses are among the most nutritious crops on the planet. Every time dried beans, broad beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas are used, both sides of the nutrition problem are addressed, namely quality and quantity. These are the key ingredients of a healthy diet.
Some of the main benefits of pulses are listed in the table below:
The most recent Seychelles National Health Strategic Plan reported that 36% of school-aged children in the country were classed as overweight and obese in 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that overweight and obese children are more likely to stay obese into adulthood and to develop noncommunicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Pulses contain a lot of carbohydrates and fibre, slowing down digestion. Not only does this process make you feel full, but it also helps control blood sugar and insulin levels. This makes it an ideal food for diabetics and for managing body weight. In this way, a diet high in pulses can be beneficial to supporting a healthy lifestyle.
Pulses as a climate-smart crop
The challenge facing the world today is how to produce enough food for a growing population without further degrading natural resources and exacerbating the consequences of climate change. Pulses are climate smart: growing them helps fight against soil erosion, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and improves carbon sequestration, which is good for the planet. The cultivation of pulses not only helps to fight against climate change but also has a beneficial effect on soil biodiversity because they do not need nitrogen fertilizers. When pulses are planted in the soil, micro-organisms are activated and considerably increase the fertility of the soil. This self-sufficiency avoids the emission of greenhouse gases, which are a by-product of the production and use of nitrogen fertilizers.
Pulses, a tool for food security
Pulses are a low-cost crop for farmers thriving in dry lands with a long shelf life. Ninety percent of the world's pulses are produced by 100 million farmers who grow them in drylands. Because they require less water than other crops, they can be grown in climates where rainfall is scarce or erratic, where other crops die or show low yields.