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The Global Pulse Industry takes a Giant Leap to the Future


Over 600 attendees - representing all sectors of the global pulse (grain legume) industry value chain from researchers, input suppliers, growers and processors through to marketers and consumers - from 56 countries around the world - gathered in May at the International Pulse Trade and Industries Confederation (CICILS IPTIC) annual convention in Cape Town South Africa.


The importance of this signature event was not only to celebrate 51 continuous years in operation for their “not for profit” global peak body, CICILS IPTIC, but also to join in planning for the most significant opportunity ever to be offered for Pulses to contribute to world food security, and through innovative health and nutrition projects to help alleviate the triple worldwide scourges of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  All this made possible following two years of careful negotiation by CICILS IPTIC with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations which resulted in the UN decision in December 2013 to declare.....


The International Year of Pulses 2016


But more of that later......


The convention opened on a high note with President Hakan Bahceci welcoming South African VIP guest speaker, Western Cape Minister for Finance Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Alan Winde, and 600 plus enthusiastic delegates before providing a solid back ground to the major theme of the convention program and outlining the opportunities that an International Year of Pulses will bring.


This is one of the most important addresses ever given to a CICILS IPTIC gathering.    The following is a slightly edited version of President Hakan Bahceci’s presentation:


CICILS IPTIC President   Hakan Bahceci


Hakan opened with brief discussion about the recent history of pulses and major cereals since the Revolution - which brought dramatic increases in production of key food crops - although pulses have lagged behind.  


He noted that since the 1950s production of Soybeans has grown by 842%, Maize by 327%, Rice by 233%, and Wheat by 204%, while pulse production has risen ONLY 73%.   (Pulse production in 1961 was about one fifth of major cereals, whereas it is presently only one tenth!)


Never the less, the Green Revolution  enabled farmers to harvest major crops in more areas and crop yields increased dramatically with the introduction of new strains of rice, corn, soybeans and wheat; and with improvements in fertilization and irrigation.   So despite its shortcomings as far as pulses are concerned, the Green Revolution provided undeniable benefits to humanity. It reduced cereal prices which improved the affordability of basic staples, lifted many people from poverty helped feed the growing population and fight hunger.


In the late 1950s about one-third of all people were estimated to go hungry every day.  That is approximately 1 billion people. Considering that in the 50’s the global population was nearly 3 billion people, and now it is more than 7 billion, a lower percentage of the world’s total population suffers from hunger,  however even today an estimated 842 million people suffer from chronic hunger - about one in eight people in the world.


Hakan then presented his thoughts on the role pulses (the healthiest food grains in the world) can play in solving the challenges of hunger, malnutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture given today’s urgent need to secure a nutritious, efficient food supply for the world.


Malnutrition, both under & over nutrition, is the gravest single threat to global public health, according to the WHO. So today one major issue that the world is trying to tackle Hunger and Malnutrition (“Hidden Hunger”).

Malnutrition contributes to over one-third of all deaths in children under age 5.  We are talking about 3.9 million children dying every year. One-third of surviving undernourished children suffer from stunted growth.  They live past 5 years but often their neurodevelopment is affected, making them vulnerable to death, diseases, and cognitive impairment, reducing productivity due to under nutrition, and continuing poverty.


 Based on data provided by the FAO, of the 842 million people who are undernourished; 35% of those live in South Asia; 26% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 20% in Eastern Asia.  And this is one aspect of the world’s food problems where pulses can provide a low-cost, nutritious solution for the world’s poor, and help fight hunger and malnutrition.


The areas with the highest incidence of undernourishment also have higher population growth rates - so it is true to say that the world’s growing population partly drives concern about food security. 

The good news is that lately population growth rate has been decreasing.   Never the less, although growth is happening at a slower pace, the world’s population will continue to grow in the coming decades and, according to UN projections, will stabilize at just above 10 billion people after 2062.

Based on UN forecasts, India’s population will surpass China’s and become the most populous country by 2030; and Nigeria will overtake the United States as the third-most populous country by 2050.


However while population is growing, a perhaps equally important story is growth of the middle income class - over the past half-century the share of people living in extreme poverty has fallen, and more people have moved into the middle-income category.


According to the Gates Foundation, by 2035 there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.

We are living in the 3rd great expansion of the middle class since 1800. The first was in the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution created a substantial middle class in Western Europe and the United States. Another period of middle-class growth occurred after World War II, once again in Europe and North America and also in Japan. 


Importantly, today’s expansion is happening in what we know as “emerging markets”.


In Asia, there are 525 million middle class people — more than the population of the EU.  Asia’s middle class will make up two-thirds of the world total by 2030 with dramatic growth of the middle-class in India and the increasing buying power of China’s middle-class.  Over the next two decades the middle class will expand by another 3 billion, mostly in the developing world.


So  how do we expect that the growth in the middle class will affect our industry?

People’s dietary habits change based on their income levels.  FAO research indicates that most of the increase in calorie consumption in developing countries will come from meat, sugar and oil.

Changes in diets, however, can have undesired consequences.    Diets rich in fat, sugar and salt, and reduced physical activity are likely to result in obesity.


More than 1.4 billion people in the world are overweight, including more than 40 million children under age five in 2011.


Being overweight or obese is the fifth-biggest risk factor for death and at least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.  Furthermore, undernourishment and over-nutrition can coexist, creating a “double burden of malnutrition” in developing countries. The poorest cannot afford enough food, while the new middle class acquire bad dietary habits.  Developing countries that adopt Western diets will acquire the “lifestyle diseases” that have plagued the West in recent decades.


Based on these trends that I have discussed, I believe there are two key markets that should be targeted to promote pulses:


·         Pulses to provide a low-cost, nutritious solution for the world’s poor, and help fight hunger and malnutrition.  And

·         As the emerging middle class spends more on food, their diets are becoming richer and more varied.  Pulses to offer a healthier and more environmentally sustainable alternative to other sources of protein.


Which leads me to my conclusion,  in which I am very excited to report on progress made since the declaration by the United Nations of The International Year of Pulses 2016 (IYOP),  and discuss how we can utilize this platform to promote pulses as a solution to the both the above challenges.


So to recap:

·         The Green Revolution helped fight hunger, yet malnutrition remains a serious problem in many developing countries.

·         Pulses are a cost-effective part of a balanced diet and contribute to sustainable agricultural practices.

·         As an industry, we need to develop strategies to encourage pulse consumption and production, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

·         IYOP 2016 presents the ideal platform to articulate new strategies to the world.



International Year of Pulses 2016

I was privileged to represent CICILS IPTIC when the final vote took place at the UN to approve 2016 as the IYOP and my heartfelt thanks go to our Consultant Robynne Anderson and the team from our Executive, our members and staff who have worked so hard during the last two years to achieve this remarkable milestone.


It would be most remiss of me at this point not to acknowledge the important role of the Turkish Government in achieving this splendid result. It was the strong and decisive action of the Turkish Government in moving the motion at FAO meetings- supported by the Pakistan government - that brought this extraordinary success.  We owe the governments of both countries our sincere gratitude.   


We should also remember to acknowledge the unanimous support given by the governments of all our national association member countries during successive meetings at the FAO and UN.  

Initially many of these countries were not in favour of declaring an international year of pulses – ostensibly for largely economic reasons.   It was only through the effective, strenuous and persuasive efforts of many members of our Executive that these countries eventually came to the view that they should vote in favour of the Turkish motion.    Thank you to all of you for this great effort.


Now, I can tell you straight away the work has just started!

I can hear comments like “ok, fine - 2016 is the year of pulse -then what?”


What does this mean for our industry?


I can whole heartedly tell you that IYOP is the opportunity to transform our industry from its traditional way as a commodity business into becoming the ethical suppliers of a key healthy and nutritious ingredient in dishes eaten throughout the world. This is where the future is!


So what have we done since the declaration of IYOP 2016?


·         As an initial indicator of CICILS recognition of the importance of IYOP in meeting the challenges outlined above we have withdrawn US$1.1 million from our reserve into a set aside account for expenditure on activities related to IYOP 2016.  

·         We have now appointed an external consultant to manage the relationship with FAO and develop a fund raising campaign enjoining all major players in the global food industry sector.

·         Strategies to promote pulse production and consumption are now being developed. National committees have been formed in most member countries under the coordination of Vice President, Cindy Brown, and are meeting for the first time face to face here in Capetown.


Potential theme areas for strategic action have been developed and work is already underway in a number of our member countries to garner government and research organisation support for projects, a number of which have already commenced. These themes are as follows



International Year of Pulses 2016

Proposed Thematic Areas


Food Security

Pulses improve productivity of farming systems through reduced nitrogen requirements and improved soil health. Improving pulse crop productivity can help reduce crop wastage due to storage, plant disease and pest control issues, especially in food insecure regions of the world. IYoP 2016 will provide a focus for accelerated extension of developed nation pulse crop management and agronomic research to developing countries. 




Creating Awareness

In many places, consumers, food industry and governments have little knowledge of pulses, their attributes and their ability to provide solutions to food security, health, nutrition and environmental sustainability issues.  IYoP 2016 is an opportunity to increase awareness as well as global demand for pulses.


Health, Nutrition & Food Innovation

Pulses provide high nutritional value (iron and protein) at a low cost. They can be used to develop innovative and nutrient-dense food products to combat malnutrition (under and over nutrition), the gravest single threat to global public health (WHO). Policy makers, international bodies, the food sector & researchers should take the chance to be involved in the IYoP 2016.


Market Access & Stability

Trade barrier costs are borne by farmers, processors, traders and consumers.  Greater efficiencies would bring benefits along the value chain. Governments and international bodies can improve the regulatory framework in which trade occurs to enhance food security, reduce price volatility and enhance the return to growers.


Production & Environmental Sustainability

Pulses are an essential part of a sustainable food system.  Pulse crops increase the productivity and water use efficiency of cropping systems, as well as biodiversity. Using pulse crops in rotation means reduced fertilizer costs/needs and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.  Increased use of pulse crops helps to ensure environmental sustainabilityCreating awareness


Talking of food innovation, I am also proud to inform you that the recently launched Pulse Innovation Partnership will play a critical role in increasing the consumption of pulses. The project is an open innovation partnership under the leadership of McGill University’s McGill Centre for Convergence of Health and Economics, and also includes companies like Nestle, Firmenich, DSM, Buhler, and research centres like CGIAR with further discussions with Tata of India, and also includes Pulse Australia, US Dry Pea and Lentil and Dry Bean Associations,  Pulse Canada, and the global communication company Leo Burnett.


This strategic alliance of public and private organizations, as well as members from civil society and academia, is committed to increasing the consumption of pulses in the developing and developed world by optimizing the role that pulses play in delivering sustainable and affordable nutrition and health.


These partners have engaged to develop science, technology and communication to increase the consumption of pulses through game-changing, innovative, great-tasting foods offering health benefits to consumers and to utilize the power of multi-sectoral partnerships to strengthen this effect.


PIP also aims to improve the nutrition of consumers in low and middle income countries by offering products with affordable, improved nutrition at lower cost.


Of course such mega international projects require serious funding. As I said earlier, CICILS IPTIC has put aside $1.1 million for the IYOP project as a kick-off and will actively seek contributions from governments, trade associations, farmers’ groups, food companies, foundations, and potential partnering product groups such as a Bulgur-pulse partnership or Rice-pulse partnership, or Wholegrain-pulse partnership.


CICILS IPTIC hopes to raise between $ 20-30 million within next 3 years.  FAO will be forming an international steering committee that we proposed to include 7 member states, 2 farmers groups, 2 trade groups, 3 food processors, 1 NGO, 1 plant breeder and 1 health expert. While the work is still a couple of months ahead of us, we are however in continuous talks with FAO. I was in Rome last week with Gordon Bacon and Robynne Andersen meeting FAO officials and official representatives of India and Turkey hoping to get them both to co-chair this international steering committee. The FAO will be looking for voluntary contributions from their member states, and we are seeking further support from India, Canada and Turkey.


In conclusion, those who were at our Dubai CICILS convention in 2012 will recall that I talked of my dream.  I said my dream is to see two out of every four plates on the globe with pulses on them. Now, I add to my dream that at least two of every four chocolate bars, mueslis, spaghettis, cookies, noodles, protein bars, energy drinks, gourmet sauces and fast foods would have pulses in them.

This is my dream, what is your dream?


Keynote address

Minister Alan Winde


Following Hakan’s address, Minister Alan Winde, provided a rousing welcome for all CICILS IPTIC delegates to Cape Town and officially opened the convention.  


While huge interest from the audience clearly centred upon IYOP 2016, and the challenges and opportunities it offers, the conference program commenced with noted Industry analyst Mr G Chandrashekar who led off as keynote speaker with an industry overview.

Global Pulses Supply & Demand Outlook

G. Chandrashekar


Chandra’s careful analysis of the overall global scenario was followed by a number high level sessions presented by many of the most erudite and key players in the global pulse industry. 


One highlight was the presentation by Mr Randy Duckworth, Director of Worldwide Activities with the US Dry Bean Council, who addressed the issues of wild weather extremes & special crops. 


Wild Weather Extremes & Special Crops

Randy Duckworth


Other important sessions included panels with key speakers dealing with up to date production and market statistics for each individual pulse crop type.


Panel Discussion - Kabuli Chickpeas

Panel session Desi Chick peas

All of these sessions are available to download by accessing the CICILS IPTIC website at


The program then proceeded to present delegates with details of progress so far with work to develop projects for IYOP (International Year of Pulses) 2016.   


It was formally announced that Robynne Anderson, Principal of Consulting Firm, Emerging Ag. Inc. has been appointed by CICILS IPTIC to coordinate IYOP activities with FAO and manage fund raising activities with major external corporate and government partners.   Over the last two years Robynne has been instrumental in ensuring successful background organisation and communication with FAO, and she will continue working for the next three years with a small CICILS voluntary IYOP oversight committee and reporting to the CICILS IPTIC Executive Committee as activities accelerate towards 2016.  See below:



Supported by the members of this oversight committee, Robynne led convention sessions to provide members with details of all the work which has been undertaken to date and outline the importance of each of the proposed thematic areas for activity.   Over 35 events and campaigns have been planned so far -  in UK, France, Spain, India, Japan, Canada, Australia, China, Germany, Brazil, UAE, Mexico, USA and Turkey.


“Also of particular importance for members was the announcement that CICILS IPTIC Vice President, Cindy Brown has graciously agreed to take on a voluntary role coordinating the formation of small voluntary IYOP “oversight sub committees” in each of the CICILS IPTIC member countries.  A number of people have already expressed willingness to become involved as coordinators in various countries. To obtain contact details for your local IYOP oversight group and take part in the planning for IYOP 2016 please email Gavin Gibson at  or Cindy Brown at


Technical Research
Saturday, December 01, 2018
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