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Global Activities for the International Year of Pulses

By: Saskatchewan Pulse Growers

Photo courtesy of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

In December 2013, the pulse community received the monumental news that the United Nations (UN) would declare 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP). The global industry immediately came together and began to plan the best ways to take advantage of this opportunity.

The IYP provides a global platform to communicate with consumers and industry members about the versatility, sustainability and health attributes of pulses, with the goal to increase demand and develop new market opportunities. As new demand and markets are created for pulses, Saskatchewan farmers are well poised to fill the demand with increased production.

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) will be showcasing pulses and IYP at some events in rural communities including harvest festivals, regional fairs and bringing a travelling museum expo that has been developed with the Agri-Food Museum in Ottawa to highlight pulses in Canada to the Crop Production Show in early January and the Ag in the City Event in Saskatoon in April. Additionally, SPG will be hosting an event recognizing pulse growers contribution to the development of the Saskatchewan pulse industry at the Canada Farm Progress Show in Regina in June.

Planning for IYP has been years in the making. 

“We worked extensively for two years to lay the ground work at the UN to have the International Year of Pulses approved, first at the Food and Agriculture Organisation and then at the UN General Assembly,” says Robynne Anderson, Founder and President of Emerging Ag. Emerging Ag is a Calgary-based organization that works with agriculture clients in the areas of issues management and communication strategies.

Since the December 2013 announcement, Anderson and her team have been working for the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) – the global trade association that represents the pulse industry value chain and represents the private sector on the UN’s International Year of Pulses steering committee – to plan and execute IYP activities.

GPC’s past President and representative on the UN International Steering Committee, Hakan Bahceci, played an important role in convening major pulse producing and consuming countries such as Turkey and Pakistan and getting their support for the year.

“The goal was to build partnerships with a variety of organizations, which resulted in 22 different groups – from universities to policy think tanks – joining the planning process,” Anderson said.

Some key North American players in this early work were Pulse Canada’s Gordon Bacon, the United States (U.S.) Dry Pea and Lentil Council’s Tim McGreevy, the U.S. Dry Bean Council’s Cindy Brown, and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers’ (SPG) Carl Potts and Lee Moats. SPG also committed financial support to these efforts early on.

The committee has planned more than 100 events to take place globally throughout 2016, including 11 signature events in every region of the world. These events have already begun, with the official kickoff event in Rome in November 2015. The North American launch took place on November 18 in New York, and the Canadian kickoff event, a Pulse Feast, took place January 6 in Toronto, targeting food media, bloggers, and food industry, with the intention to introduce and familiarize pulses to these important audiences.

Focus Areas for 2016 IYP work

The Global Pulse Confederation has outlined four key areas to promote the global production and consumption of pulses:

  • Increase Food Security, Nutrition and Innovation by partnering with governments and the private sector to increase production and consumption of pulses.
  • Create Awareness by establishing pulses as a globally-recognized food category.
  • Address Market Access and Stability issues so pulses can be marketed at the local, regional, and international level and add value across food supply chains.
  • Contribute to Productivity and Environmental Sustainability by highlighting the important role pulses have to play in global agricultural systems and sustainable food production.

UN Designated International Years

Since 1959, the United Nations has dedicated special years and observances to promote international awareness and action on various topics. Here’s a look at the past decade.

2016 – International Year of Pulses

2015 – International Year of Soils

2014 – International Year of Family Farming

2013 – International Year of Quinoa

2012 – International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

2011 – International Year of Youth

2010 – International Year of Biodiversity

2009 – International Year of Natural Fibres

2008 – International Year of the Potato

2007 – International Polar Year

2006 – International Year of Deserts and Desertification


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