Pulses are edible dry seeds of plants belonging to the Leguminosae family. They are consumed in the form of whole seed, split-grain, dehulled split-grain and flour.

Many different types of pulses are grown the world over. Of these, the major ones, in terms of global production and consumption quantities, are the common bean, chickpea, dry pea, lentil, cowpea, mung bean, red bean, and pigeon pea.

In addition, there are a large number of minor pulses that are grown and consumed in different parts of the world. While pulses are primarily grown for human consumption, there is, in addition, substantial demand for them as animal feed in some of the developed countries.

Of the various pulses, dry pea, faba bean, and lupins are widely used as animal feed. The pulse grain has a pair of cotyledons that make up its edible part. There are two aspects of pulses that distinguish them from most other food crops.

First, they are very nutritious and their consumption is associated with many health benefits. They are rich in proteins and minerals, have high fiber content and low-fat content, and have no cholesterol. The carbohydrates in pulses are absorbed and digested slowly, and thus help control diabetes and obesity.

Secondly, pulses, like other plants of the Leguminosae family, have root nodules that absorb inert nitrogen from soil air and convert it into biologically useful ammonia, a process referred to as biological nitrogen fixation.

Pulses have been an essential part of the human diet for centuries, yet their nutritional value is not generally recognized and the average level of consumption of pulses remains low. The International Year of Pulses 2016 went a long way to reverse these perceptions and bring to light the crucial roles that pulses play in healthy diets, sustainable food production, and, above all, in food security.

Pulses truly are nutritious seeds for a sustainable future and can make an important contribution to the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Based on a comprehensive survey of relevant literature and a detailed analysis of quantitative data, The Global Economy of Pulses shows that there is a pressing need to close the large gap between potential and actual yields, particularly on smallholder farms, including by adopting improved varieties and modern agronomic practices throughout developing countries. This in turn requires a major thrust in agricultural research and extension, improving credit availability, and public investment.

As the world marks World Pulses Day 2022, FSPN Africa recounts its contribution to beans production through its support to beans production in Nandi County-Kenya under the Digital Agriculture Africa Project.

FSPN has made invaluable strides with the over 1,000 smallholder farmers in the county, greatly impacting household food and nutrition security

The smallholder farmers have greatly benefited from the technical and extension support in common bean production. The pieces of training on bean production have proven to be a sure way of increasing yields as new and improved production strategies are transferred to the farmers for adoption.

The technical and extension support offered to the farmers include Market linkages, financial support through linkage to financial institutions, weather forecast notification that helps inform the SHF’s and greatly contribute to decision making, and training on production, soil health and financial literacy.

FSPN Africa remains focused on its goal of contributing to household food and nutrition security for both rural and urban populations across Africa by promoting production at the household level.

Training Women in Agriculture under DAA project in Emgwen June, 2021.

Pulses being a major contributor to food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa and the entire world make it one of the major food clusters of interest for FSPN. The efforts made so far are not an end to a means but a deliberate contribution to Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda, Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Being conscious of the fact that food and nutrition security is not a one-man endeavor, FSPN seeks to foster partnerships with relevant individuals, institutions, parastatals, community-based organizations, and other NGOs to build teams that purposefully contribute to household food and nutrition security.