International Year of Pulses

International Year of Pulses Recognizes Pulses as One of the World’s Most Important Foods

Canadian pulses—dry beans, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas—are stepping into the spotlight in 2016 as the world celebrates International Year of Pulses (IYP). Chef Michael Smith is the first Canadian to pledge to eat more pulses in 2016.

“Many Canadians are familiar with lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans, even if they don’t know the term pulses, which are edible seeds of plants in the legume family,” says Chef Michael Smith, Canada’s International Year of Pulses (IYP) Ambassador. “Canada can be proud of the pulses we grow here. They are nutritional superstars, affordable and easy to prepare, and they are sustainably grown, meaning they are good for the planet, too.”

In conjunction with the kick-off of IYP, a Pulse Pledge campaign is being launched, aiming to get North Americans eating more homegrown pulses. The Pulse Pledge is a 10-week commitment to eat pulses each week. “I took the Pulse Pledge because it is an easy way to boost nutrition in almost any meal from tacos to burgers to desserts. And, my family loves them,” says Chef Michael.

Canadians can take the Pulse Pledge at and share their ideas on how they eat pulses through social media (hashtags #pulsepledge and #lovepulses).

“We’re asking Canadians to make a commitment to eating pulses more frequently because just a half-cup can make a big difference,” explains Smith.  

Pulses are a low-fat source of protein, fibre and many vitamins and minerals. They support a healthy diet and can even help in the management of diet-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

In celebration of IYP, Chef Michael Smith created a new signature dish, the Pulse Taco featuring green lentils and chickpeas. “My Pulse Tacos are packed with fibre, protein, nutrients, and flavour. They’re a great way for your family to join families around the world in a global celebration of flavour and nutrition!”

Canadians can also help the environment and contribute to the future of sustainable food production simply by eating pulses – they’re a low carbon, water-efficient source of protein that enriches the soil where they are grown.

Pulses are a remarkable Canadian success story. Canada’s pulse industry, which only began to see significant growth beginning in the 1970’s, is now contributing over $3 billion to Canada’s economy. Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of dry peas and lentils and a major supplier of pulses to over 150 countries around the world. Canada’s biggest export markets are India, China and Turkey. Pulses are Canada’s fifth largest crop, after wheat, canola, corn and barley.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) to celebrate pulses’ contribution to health, nutrition and environmental sustainability and to demonstrate the contribution pulses can make toward global food security and helping the UN implement its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to eliminate global poverty and hunger.

IYP Theme Areas Overview

Creating Awareness

The International Year will aim to increase awareness of pulses globally, and to increase demand, utilization, and production of pulses worldwide. Using all platforms - events, campaigns, websites, and social media - ensures that by the end of 2016, more people know about pulses and their benefits.

Food, Nutrition and Security, and Innovation

Encouraging awareness of the nutritional value of pulses can help consumers adopt healthier diets. In developing countries, where the trend in dietary choices tends towards more animal based protein and cereals, retaining pulses is an important way to ensure diets remain balanced and to avoid the increase in non-communicable disease often associated with diet transitions and rising incomes.

Market Access and Stability

Ensuring export markets remain free of import duties, trade-restricting maximum residue limits, and other constraints will keep markets open and trade flowing. By strengthening trade we increase demand for pulses, and create more opportunity to market them.

Productivity and Environmental Sustainability

Pulses play an important role for global sustainability in many ways. They are an important component of crop rotations, they require less fertilizer than other crops, and they are a low carbon source of protein. Ensuring farmers and consumers understand the sustainability benefit of pulses is a key element to the year.