Pulses have largely been left out of the food security and agricultural development discussion, despite being high in nutritional value and improving soil health. Pulses are the edible seeds of leguminous crops such as chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. In addition to being high in protein, fiber, and a wide array of micro-nutrients, pulses contribute to higher crop production by harnessing atmospheric nitrogen, reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizers. The United Nations declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses, aiming to increase consumption of and demand for this nutritious food group.
Now that 2016 is drawing to a close, the call to action for building on the momentum from the International Year of Pulses calls for closing the gaps between productivity, sale, and integration of pulses into food processing. Check out a few ways Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation's partners are increasing smallholder farmers' access to pulses:
Stewards Globe is expanding the market for certified legume seed in Zambia. It is increasing farmers’ awareness of the importance of legumes for soil health and family nutrition and is increasing its supply of certified seed through an outgrower scheme.
Agri-Inputs Suppliers Limited AISL is commercializing a legume inoculant called Nitrofix in Malawi. Nitrofix increases legumes’ natural nitrogen fixation, increasing nitrogen in the soil without expensive fertilizers and increasing legume yields.
MEA LIMITED is bringing to market a similar legume inoculant, called Biofix, in Kenya. Through this partnership, MEA is reducing production time and commercializing smaller packet sizes that are better suited to smallholders’ needs.
In your experience, are pulses an area of profitability for commercial businesses? How is your business contributing to the production of pulses in socially beneficial ways?