President of Ireland endorses the LEG4DEV project and calls for increased investment in scaling of pulses for sustainable development

On World Pulses Day 2024, the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, issued a statement highlighting the importance of pulses (legumes) for food security and sustainable development. The following is the text of President Higgins’ statement.

“World Pulses Day for all of those working to achieve food security is one of the most important days of the year.

It is important that Pulses, also known as legumes, occupy a central space in considerations of how to break dependencies and assist countries in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger.

It is a remarkable statistic that despite having two-thirds of remaining arable land, Africa still imports 100 million tonnes of food at a cost of $75 billion annually. Pulses can play a key role in breaking these dependencies.

Pulses – such as chickpeas, dry beans, lentils, dry peas and lupins – are healthy, high-protein and nutrient dense foods which can play a critical role for food security and sustainable development globally.

Lentils, for instance, meet all of the requirements for sufficiency, sustainability and ecological responsibility in every way. At the same time, pulses have a positive impact on the earth, as well as providing easier access to food and eliminating the need for food transport.

In spite of the many known benefits of pulses, their production and consumption have been in steady decline since the second half of the twentieth century. There is a need for greater research investment to overcome the many barriers, from technical to policy, that are limiting the potential of pulses for sustainable development to be achieved.

An example of this vital research is such as that being conducted by Professor Charles Spillane and the University of Galway’s Ryan Institute, who are currently leading a large interdisciplinary EU funded research project on ‘Scaling Legumes for Development Outcomes’ with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and university and national partners in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Work such as this is a vital contribution to realising the productivity, sustainability, nutrition, health and improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers which pulses can provide.”

The statement by President Higgins for World Pulses Day 2024 first appeared on the Irish presidential website.