2016 has been declared as the International Year of Pulses (IYP) by the United Nations. Pulses are edible grain legumes – think pinto, kidney, garbanzo, lentils, and peas. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization wants the public to recognize pulses “as a primary source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.”
“We want to increase awareness of the importance of beans and other pulse crops to human health,” says Henry Thompson, a Crop Science Society of America IYP team member. Thompson has collaborated on research that supports the clinical evidence between higher bean consumption and a reduction in cancer risk. “Beans are high in fiber and protein, and have many healthy attributes,” says Thompson.
Besides eating more beans, CSSA encourages home gardeners to add some pulse crops to their garden beds. “Most pulses – like pinto beans and black eyed peas – can be grown in many U.S. locations,” says Matthew Blair. “In addition to being healthy to eat, pulses are ‘nitrogen fixers’ and are good for your garden’s soil.” Blair is a professor at Tennessee State University, and a member of the IYP team.
Other activities planned by CSSA include sending 10 graduate students to the PanAfrican Grain Legume Conference and World Cowpea Conference in Zambia in late February. CSSA offered these grants in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Feed the Future Knowledge-Driven Agricultural Development.