Outcomes of the Pan-African Conference in Zambia

The pulse of development is often a bean.

The Pan-African Legumes conference is highlighting some of the outcomes of their meeting in Zambia.  It was a pleasure to be a speaker regarding the International Year of Pulses. I’ve never seen such an enthused and dedicated audience at any meeting.  Every workshop was packed, people were engaged, and they worked 12-14 hour days in session.  More than 400 young scientists showed their passion for pulse crops, every one of whom is needed to foster the productivity of pulse crops and the diversity of the food system.

Read the event recap from the MSU publication ‘Futures’ here.

Emerging Ag congratulates Dr Lawrence Haddad on his appointment as new Executive Director for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

In June, I had the privilege of being invited as a guest to the GAIN Partnership Council annual meeting that took place in Geneva. It was an excellent event that brought together a diverse group of participants from GAIN staff, academia, civil society, and the private sector. I attended as a representative of the Private Sector Mechanism to the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in order to further linkages between GAIN and the CFS. At the time of the meeting, the search committee had not yet announced who the new Executive Director (replacing Marc Van Ameringen) would be. I was delighted to hear the appointment of Dr Haddad. Having worked at IFPRI previously in my career, I was all the more pleased. Dr Haddad’s reputation speaks to itself. He will continue being a leading figure in the international nutrition policy in this new capacity. The PSM Working Group on Nutrition will be keen on engaging with him.

Avena Canadiense Recipe Competition: Mexican Oat Lovers Submit Over 150 Recipes!

Did you ever think that you can make the Mexican dish tamales with oats? How about oats ice cream or lasagna? Honestly we haven´t, but the Mexicans have!
As part of the promotional activities, POGA held two recipe contests through the
Avena Canadiense Fan Page profile targeting Mexican users.  

Launched in February, the first recipe contest concluded successfully with 3 winners and 64 recipes submitted by Mexican users. Given the incredible response, POGA launched a second contest in May which drew in a whopping 160 oats recipes! They include:

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2015 Annual Report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Launched

The 2015 Annual Report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has been launched, following a crucial year for climate research and action. Agriculture gained prominence in the Paris climate agreement, helped by the work that many groups, such as CCAFS, have done to help make the case for the sector’s crucial importance in mitigation and adaptation. CCAFS report also highlights the important role of science in informing initiatives to enhance farmers’ resilience both at the policy level as well as through partnerships at farm level– illustrated by the example of the work carried out in climate-smart villages around the world.

Learn more by reading the 2015 Annual Report here: http://bit.ly/ccafs2015

EDD Session: Ending Hunger and Undernutrition: It can be done faster

The numbers are staggering. Hunger and undernutrition are persistent and unacceptable human tragedies that cause and perpetuate poverty and have huge social and economic costs.  Yet, preventing malnutrition is one of the most efficient development interventions: malnutrition prevention programs deliver $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent.

The case for improving food security and nutrition is clear; the challenge comes in accomplishing it and progress has been too slow.

Is it the lack of political will?

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2016 Global Pulse Convention Recap

Between May 18 and 22nd I, along with the Emerging team traveled to Çeşme, Turkey, for the 2016 Global Pulse Convention. This conference had over 650 participants from all over the world participate in meetings and discussions regarding the pulse industry and the International Year of Pulses.

One of the meetings we helped organize was the national committees meeting. In this meeting, national committees presented on the amazing activities they had been working on, as well as collaborated with others to think of new and creative ways to get consumers involved with IYP2016.  It was fantastic to see the countless events these committees are hosting all over the world. Ranging from educational field day seminars, to galas, and to recipe books. Instead of describing each activity, below are a few highlights;


FOODEX is an event to showcase various products from the Food & Beverage industry. This year, the event took place in Japan on March 8th to the 11th. There was a World Pulses Booth to present the International Year of Pulses. For more information visit here.

blijeboonThe Netherlands has a stupendous food truck called "Blije Boon". The truck travels around the country giving out pulse samples and brochures to teach people about the great benefits of pulses and the wide variety of dishes they can be included in!

uk-falafelOn May 1st, the UK National Committee hosted the London Falafel Festival. The festival featured a competition to see who had the best falafel recipe in London. Learn more, and read about the winner here!


Argentina has developed a pulse based cookbook and is looking at developing one aimed towards children by the end of July!


The Canadian National Committee has been very active! Their activities range from developing a museum exhibit that travels around Canada featuring the benefits of pulses, to supporting the Pulse Pledge, to hosting the national Mission ImPULSEible competition!


Chile hosted a Dry Bean Field Day on January 27th! Learn more here!

These are just a few of the over 400 events that have happened and will happen all over the world! It is amazing to see how people have engaged in the Year and I cannot wait to see what else these amazing committees can think of.

UNEP and UNFCCC talk Agriculture and Environmental Impact

In the past few weeks we’ve seen a lot coming up about agriculture and its impact on the environment.  Two overlapping UN meetings were addressing the subject – at the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA 2) in Nairobi, we saw a lot of focus on biodiversity, natural resources and agriculture, with the launch of a new report called “Food Systems and Natural Resources” discussing the challenges we face and calling for a move to ‘Resource-Smart food Systems'. The report highlights some important ways forward too, such as the need to sustainably intensify production, reduce food loss and waste, and improve energy and water-efficiency in food processing.

At the same time, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was also meeting. One of the items on the agenda was climate-smart agriculture. Two workshops were held on adaptation and on technologies, but the negotiations in the informal groups did not yield a conclusive way forward, highlighting the continued sensitivity of the issue to many countries.

The proliferation of concepts seeking to capture what are ‘sustainable’ agriculture systems – from resource-smart, to climate smart - are an important indication of the complexity of the task at hand. But it also can create some confusion among external stakeholders. We are going to see a lot of these issues converge as efforts to define the Sustainable Development Goals indicators intensify in coming months. Under Goal 2, measuring progress towards sustainable agriculture is one of the main dimensions. This will undoubtedly require grappling with the same issues raised at UNEP and UNFCCC these past weeks.

To mobilize agriculture against climate change, leave no pulse behind

On May 16-26, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will host the Bonn Climate Change Conference. In the wake of the December signing of the Paris Agreement, the event will focus on implementation of this landmark pact through the First session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement. At the same time, this venue will also advance long-running processes such as the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), which will hold its forty-fourth session.  So the Bonn conference represents both new and long-term international collaboration to tackle global climate change.

In their reflections note for this event, the outgoing and incoming Conference of the Parties presidents state that “No issue has been left behind.” Indeed, agriculture, which has struggled at times for visibility in the UNFCCC negotiations, will be featured through two SBSTA sessions at the Bonn conference focused on adaptation measures and enhancement of productivity. These sessions will offer a venue for governments and others to explore this sector’s role in the climate response, including the agriculture-related strategies put forth in 80% of the submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

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A CGIAR guide to Climate-Smart Agriculture

An online guide to climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has been created by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Contributions to the site came from experts at the World Bank, CGIAR and many other institutions on these issues. The site covers the basics, such as what is CSA and why it is important, and offers detailed guidance on CSA planning, finance, and case studies from around the world. The site offers many access points for those who are interested in specific practices, systems approaches or policies. This guide should come in handy ahead of the agriculture workshops that will be held on May 21 and 23rd during the next meeting of the UN Climate Change convention in Bonn, Germany.

Explore the website, and learn about climate-smart agriculture, here.

Forget about the weather, there are more original ways to make small talk: IYP 2016 in Latin America

Semana Nacional de la Nutricion 2016-1Since the United Nations started to declare International Years in 1960, only 3 foods have received such recognition: rice, potatoes and quinoa. 2015 was dedicated to soils, 2014 to the importance of Family Farming... This year pulses entered this honorary list of UN International Years, ready to show the world how much they contribute to the global food security, to people’s diets and to the soils.

As a Mexican, pulses and especially beans, are close to my heart since childhood. I was a difficult child who did not want to eat veggies. Can you guess what I preferred to eat instead? Beans. Frijoles de la olla with scrambled eggs. My niece’s favorite food is also beans... No wonder why we are called Frijoleros. 

To track down what is happening in Latin America, this month I attended a couple of events dedicated to the International Year of Pulses 2016. Organised by INTA (Instituto Nacional de Innovación y Transferencia en Tecnología Agropecuaria), the LXI PCCMCA annual meeting took place in San Jose on April 5-8. The meeting gathered 300 attendants from many countries from the region including Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Mexico, to discuss regional strategies for food security, mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

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