UNITED NATIONS, Feb 11 (APP): The United Nations marked the World Pulses Day on Wednesday, with Pakistan’s Ambassador Munir Akram highlighting the important contribution of pulses to sustainable food systems and healthy diets.
Speaking at a virtual event in connection with the day, Ambassador Akram, who is also the president of UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said pulses were part of Asian and African diets for centuries.
“When the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan was imprisoned by his son, he was offered the choice of only one food during his incarceration. He chose lentils.”
He added, “Being part of Asia my own country Pakistan is not an exception where pulses are one of the most important sources of plant protein.”
The World Pulses Day, commemorated annually on February 10, was established in 2018 by the UN General Assembly, which recognized the importance of pulses as well as their contributions to sustainable food production.
They are a key ingredient in dishes and cuisines globally: hummus in the Mediterranean; baked beans in English diets, or dal in South Asian cuisine.
In his remarks, Ambassador Akram said sustainable production and consumption of pulses were thus part of the efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “COVID-19 has highlighted how many of our food systems are failing us, especially where inequality is most pronounced.”
Food systems must become more inclusive, more equitable and more sustainable, with pulses an integral part of such a strategy, the Pakistani envoy said.
The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 149 million people were acutely food insecure across 79 countries in 2019. COVID-19 is projected to bring the total number of acutely food insecure people to 272 million by the end of 2020.
Ambassador Akram called for a humanitarian and emergency response to hunger and to the disease, and, at the same time, to work to strengthen food systems.
“We need to invest in sustainable agriculture-related infrastructure to ensure market access for remote and small-scale farmers in the developing countries,” he said.
“We must work together to make sustainable agriculture technologies available to the developing countries on concessional and preferential terms.”
There was also an urgent need to find a permanent solution to the billions of dollars of agricultural subsidies that are provided by the industrialized countries which have led to chronic overproduction, dumping of surpluses, and distortions in global markets especially in the developing countries, he said.