BROAD BEANS (FABA)
HEALTH & NUTRITION
Faba Beans, To Cairo From The Land Down Under 10
A New Method of Measuring Protein Quality 22 08 China: Pulse Market Conditions 18 Argentinaâ€™s Historic Drought 14 Sunflower Seeds: The Superfood Behind the Mild Mannered Shell
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2016 International Year of the Pulse 04
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Year of the Pulse By Charlie Higgins Planning is underway to promote an international observance of pulses through the United Nations. Agricultural consultant Robynne Anderson shares the details of the project and how you can contribute.
Since the inaugural World Refugee Year in 1959, the United Nations has designated dozens of International Years to observe issues of global interest or concern. Notable examples include International Year for Human Rights (1968), International Women’s Year (1975), International Year of Peace (1986), International Literacy Year (1990) and International Year of Microcredit (2005).
“An International Year is a tremendous opportunity to galvanize activity and attention on a topic.”
In 2004, the International Year of Rice was observed, becoming the first food and agriculture-related UN year. Later we saw the International Year of the Potato (2008) and International Year of Quinoa (2013). Now it seems it is time for beans, lentils, chickpeas and other pulse crops to take center stage. Could 2016 be the first International Year of Pulses? Robynne Anderson thinks so. Founder of the agricultural consulting firm Emerging Ag Inc., Anderson has been working closely with CICILS President Hakan Bahceci and CEO Gavin Gibson to lay the foundation for the International Year of Pulses project. Her PowerPoint presentation at this year’s annual CICILS conference in Singapore served as a formal introduction to the project for many industry members and identified the important socio-economic benefits of pulses. Recently Anderson sat down with goIFT to discuss the details of the project, including its origins, main supporters, planning process and goals.
IFT: When and how did the idea for International Year of the Pulses come about? What organizations and individuals have shown interest in the project?
accommodate both pulses and soils. There has been a proposal for an International Year of Rye, but it has not moved through the FAO Council to date.
Robynne Anderson: Hakan Bahceci, President of CICILS, is the visionary who began the campaign for the International Year. Under his direction the CICILS office, Board and membership have shown tremendous interest in the project. It was also through his efforts that the Governments of Turkey and Pakistan became engaged and made the motion for the International Year, which kick-started a wave of support that resulted in unanimous approval of the year at the FAO Council.
IFT: What are the costs associated with promoting a new “Year of” and how are the funds raised and managed? How is the industry involved?
IFT: What does it take to get a “Year of...” designation? What steps are involved in the nomination process? RA: The United Nations declares International Years and, for agricultural matters, that process begins at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. In December 2012, a motion was made to add a discussion of International Year of Pulses to the agenda for the April FAO Council meeting. The FAO Council is a 49 member committee that operates similarly to a board of directors. During the April meeting, there was a unanimous vote in favor of an international year. From there, that recommendation moved on to the FAO Conference in June, which is a meeting of all the member states of the FAO. If approved at Conference, the motion is then sent to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which holds the final power of approval. IFT: What are the other “Year ofs” under consideration for the 2016 designation? How does Year of Pulses hold up against the competition? RA: The FAO was eager to have an International Year of Soils declared and an agreement has been reached to have soils be in 2015 and pulses in 2016. Following this, a new policy will be implemented that International Years will be at two-year intervals. The new policy at FAO of increasing the length of time between years and creating higher standards for their conduct was developed while the campaign for the Pulse Year was underway and created some considerable procedural challenges. However, the countries have proposed the compromise that phases in the implementation of the policy to
RA: An International Year is a tremendous opportunity to galvanize activity and attention on a topic. It is typically run through a committee housed at the FAO (for agricultural related years). One of the reasons for the early support for the Pulse Year among countries like the U.S., Canada and Australia was the engagement of the pulse sector. They would like to encourage “years” that more fully involve the UN system, national governments, farmers, private sector, civil society, scientists and other actors. For this reason, it will be very important to see how the International Year of Pulses committee is formed and that it can work to include and mobilize many different groups. For instance, ICARDA was an early supporter of the Pulse Year and is keen to be helpful in driving science related activities. Similarly, CICILS has already formed its own internal committee to work on the International Year and will want to make the most of the opportunity the Year presents. In terms of funding, the International Year will require approximately US$ 2 million. However, the sky is the limit in terms of what could be done to fully promote the role of pulses in a healthy diet, so the opportunity is there to raise additional funds and do more. IFT: What might a 2016 Year of the Pulses look like? What would be some of the central messages to convey during the Year of the Pulses and how would it benefit the industry? RA: Key themes for the year are likely to be food
security, including health and nutrition, plus sustainability, market access and production. Activities will be arranged by a series of national committees that will be set up in each country once the year is approved by the General Assembly. Readers are encouraged to work with their national governments to get involved at a country level. In addition, the international committee will plan a series of events. Early proposals include a global conference on plant research and activities in the context of
the World Health Organization efforts on non-communicable diseases. Regional issues like the needs of pulse production in Africa are likely to be high on the agenda, particularly with the World Food Program being an early supporter of the Year. One of the key areas of focus will be communications, including messaging on the benefits of pulses across a wide array of countries and sectors. This work could exponentially increase the power of the Year by reaching out at a consumer-level, as well as to food processors, dieticians and farmers. IFT: What kinds of lessons can be learned from past â€œYear ofâ€? successes and failures? As a set of crops with some of the biggest impacts on human wellbeing, pulses truly have the opportunity to hold one of the most impactful International Years. Based on lessons learned from other international years, approaches that include the broadest number of actors, mobilize more capacity for message sharing, and start early on the efforts for resourcing are crucial to success. Another interesting aspect of this is the involvement of CICILS early in the process. Many international years 06 IFTmag
have had a limited focus on outcomes. With a strong sectorial engagement, there will be a clearer set of mandates and programming better aimed at resolving technical issues, spurring research, and furthering the use of pulses. These will be a priority for outcomes with a long term effect and will be the legacy of the International Year of Pulses. IFT: How can members of the pulse industry get involved and contribute to the project? Whom should they contact about donating to the effort? Volunteers are totally welcome and can contact the CICILS office at email@example.com. It will be a few months until the year is approved and work really begins. CICILS has already set up a special fund for the International Year and is taking donations at CICILS. org. Of course, a major fundraising campaign will be initiated that will involve large sponsorships and other unique opportunities once the Year is fully approved at the UN.nal issues like the needs of pulse production in Africa are likely to be high on the agenda, particularly with the World Food Program being an early supporter of the Year.
Eat more pulses, help fight hunger, save the world
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China: Pulse Market Conditions By Dr. Randall Fairman Extreme weather in HeiLongJiang Province is forcing farmers to seek out alternatives.
A recent publication covering corn and grain futures in China reports on the increased risk of corn failing to mature in Eastern HeiLongJiang Province due to early-season adverse weather conditions. According to the article, as a result, many farmers in the region are switching to pulses and other crops. A significant impact on the price of corn and grain is not expected as storehouses will be opened up. The article does not directly address any potential impact on bean production or prices. Our own independent research indicates that many farmers and processors in HeiLongJiang Province currently believe that prices will be high for kidney beans this year. As farmers are pushed to plant alternative crops, it is a safe bet that a majority of them will choose kidney beans as an alternative crop due to their relatively shorter growing season. Figure 1 shows the current price trends for kidney beans. Figure 2 shows that the majority of kidney beans from China have come from HeiLongJiang Province each of the past 4 years. If even a small fraction of corn fields were to shift over to bean production, there could be a significant impact on bean production.
Faba Beans, to Cairo
from the Land Down Under By Charlie Higgins Egypt’s hunger for Australian faba beans has helped the niche market grain become one of the country’s fastest growing pulse exports.
If you ever find yourself wandering the streets of Cairo, don’t be offended by the countless street vendors yelling “foooooooool!” They’re selling Egypt’s most popular breakfast food, ful medames, a dish of mashed faba beans flavored with garlic, lemon, and cumin typically served with eggs and pita bread. Faba beans, or ful, are a staple of Egyptian cuisine and have been cultivated in the region since ancient times. Ful medames is the most popular way of eating faba beans, but there are literally thousands of recipes and variations used by Egyptians across all social and economic classes. Faba beans are to Egypt what black beans are to Mexico.
With a population of 84.3 million and growing about 2% annually, Egypt has a lot of mouths to feed. Though faba beans are produced domestically, the country must import large volumes to meet the growing demand for its second most important staple food. For Australia’s pulse industry, Egypt’s faba bean fever has created a lucrative opportunity with demand that continues to grow. Between November 2012 and February 2013, Australia exported 153,988 metric tons of fabas to Egypt, representing nearly 70% of its entire export volume. Though the country lost some of its market share to France and the UK after a national drought in 2002, Australian growers continue to innovate and improve the quality and reliability of their fabas.
The Dawn of Australian Faba Faba and broad beans (a larger faba variety with lower production) first became significant pulse crops in Australia during the mid 1980s and reached their heyday a decade later. Between the 1920s and 1970s, growers had experimented with a few Tic or “horse” beans using poorly adapted European varieties, but the results were mediocre at best. The first Australian and well-adapted faba bean variety, Fiord, was released in 1980, sparking interest in the national pulse-growing community. Since then, faba bean production has grown steadily in Australia. Individual states have experienced ups and downs due to disease control and climate issues, but most have increased their production consistently since 1995. Australia saw peak production levels in 2000, with national acreage reaching 206,000 hectares. However, major drought between 2006 and 2008 left a significant impact that allowed France and the UK to obtain greater shares of the Egyptian market. Despite setbacks, Australia’s faba bean industry remains strong and is now seeing renewed interest thanks to higher prices and solid average yields. Fabas are well suited to a range of soil types and climates, and are currently grown in parts of Western and Southern Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. “In all Australian States, beans have historically been considered too difficult to grow because of disease problems. With variable yields and returns, even total crop losses, they had earned a reputation as ‘fraud’ or ‘failure’ beans,” says Wayne Hawthorne, Industry Development Manager for Pulse Australia. “Now, 30 odd years after the first major crop losses, faba beans are considered a valuable and profitable pulse crop that suits broad acre cropping rotations. With new variety releases, a better understanding of how to manage diseases, better agronomic advice and improved marketing and infrastructure, there is considerable confidence in growing faba and broad beans, and production is set to expand even further.”
Meeting Egypt’s Demand Egypt imports approximately 48% of all the faba and broad beans traded internationally. The top four importing countries — Egypt, Italy, Sudan and Spain — comprise 74% of the entire import market for fabas. Australia has remained competitive in this industry and currently exports about 70% of its fabas to Egypt. Hawthorne says several factors have enabled this lucrative trading relationship. “The release of the new faba bean variety Fiesta VF in 1998 assisted the Australian faba bean industry greatly as this was a preferred faba bean product in the Egyptian markets because of its larger, more uniform grain size and light color.” “The harmonization of product specifications negotiated by Pulse Australia and the Egyptian Government were ratified in April 2002, and this greatly facilitated trade in beans and lentils between the two countries. Australian national export standards for faba and broad beans were set based on this harmonization and receival standards set to achieve those exportable grades,” Hawthorne said. Competition with France and the UK remains a key challenge for Australia’s faba bean industry, though Hawthorne says the country has a few advantages that make up for its susceptibility to drought. “Recent faba bean varieties released in UK and France are targeting the Egyptian market for quality and size in the same way as Australian breeders do. Australia has the advantage of clean and dry beans at harvest and the absence of bruchids, a pest of European beans and a major quality issue in the Egyptian market,” Hawthorne explained.
The Future of Faba With new varieties being introduced, improved farming techniques, better disease control and the expansion of emerging markets, Australia’s faba bean industry is set to grow in the coming years. One of these new markets is China, which Hawthorne says is expected to become a net importer of faba and broad beans. “Importation of faba and broad beans into China from Australia is currently restricted by trade regulations in China. This situation is expected to eventually be overcome, opening the way for Australian beans to be exported directly to China,” Hawthorne explained. “China produces 41% of the world’s faba and broad bean, but consumes much of its production. China was a major export competitor to Australia during the 1990s, and still rates fourth in world export tonnages now. The price and quality of their product has influenced Australian export tonnages and prices,” said Hawthorne. On the production side, northern Australia is seeing a lot of growth with the release of new varieties of marketable quality. Technological advancements in southern Australia have also helped growers better understand the nuances of growing faba beans on more acidic soils. These factors, combined with increasing market demand, should bode well for the industry. “Market expansion into a wider range of countries will also assist in the further production of faba beans in Australia. There will remain many factors that will affect the production levels in the future including demand from new and emerging markets, comparative pricing from alternative crops and the continued development of new varieties and agronomic practices,” Hawthorne said.
The Superfood Behind the Mild Mannered Shell By Dario Bard
New innovative food products feature super-nutritious sunflower seeds. Packing two times more protein than walnuts and pecans. Delivering six times more vitamin E than peanuts. And able to stop disease cold in its tracks. Look! Up on the health food shelves! It’s one of the world’s undisputed superfoods! It’s sunflower seeds! Scorned by some as a marketing ploy, the term superfood was originally used to refer to foods of high nutritional value that provide numerous health benefits without negative health impacts. 14 IFTmag
Sunflower seeds, in this regard, constitute a superfood in the truest and purest sense of the word. Its credentials include: Vitamin E: An antioxidant that protects cell membranes. Research points to healthy cell membranes as an important factor in delaying the onset of a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Vitamin E also slows the effects of aging and controls the symptoms of asthma and arthritis, as well as the risk of colon cancer, diabetes and atherosclerosis. According to the USDA, sunflower seeds represent the best whole food source of Vitamin E; a single ounce of oil-roasted sunflower seeds provide 76% of the recommended dietary allowance. Micronutrients: Sunflower seeds are full of micronutrients. For instance, 100g contains 90% of the daily value of cooper, which helps carry oxygen to the cells to produce energy. The same sized serving provides 30% of the daily value of zinc, which keeps the immune system strong, and iron, which helps transport oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. Sunflower seeds also include magnesium, which may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Selenium, another micronutrient, works with vitamin E to prevent heart disease. Phytochemicals: Sunflower seeds include several of these naturally occurring chemical compounds, including betaine (which reduces the risk of heart disease); phenolic acid (an anticarcinogen); choline (which promotes memory and improves ognitive functions); arginine (which benefits heart health); and lignans (which reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and lowers LDL cholesterol). Together, these phytochemicals may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and help fight colon, prostate and breast cancer. Folate: Improves blood circulation and nerve function, and protects against congenital malformations. Folate helps develop the DNA and RNA in cells, making it vital to the production of new red blood cells. It is especially important for pregnant women and newborns.
In addition to these health attributes, sunflower seeds are high in protein (24 grams of protein in every 100 grams of sunflower seeds) and fiber (one gram per half ounce serving), as well as in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (90% of total fat content), which may benefit cardiovascular health. Research indicates that diets with unsaturated fats may be preferable to non-fat diets because unsaturated fats lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while maintaining HDL (good) cholesterol levels. With U.S. domestic consumption of confection sunflower seeds up 39% over the last decade, it’s not surprising that new sunflower-based food products are increasingly popping up on store shelves. Sunflower butter, perhaps one of the first innovations in this regard, was originally produced as a snack alternative for children who couldn’t 16 IFTmag
consume peanut butter due to tree nut allergies (sunflower seeds, on the other hand, are practically allergen free). Sunflower seeds and peanuts have similar oil, protein and carbohydrate content, but peanuts lack the micronutrients of sunflower. Building on the sunflower butter experience, the National Sunflower Association partnered with the Northern Crops Institute and North Dakota State University to find other food applications for sunflower seeds. A 2011 study conducted by these two institutions evaluated consumer acceptance of foods made with sunflower butter versus peanut butter. Sunflower cookies and biscotti were as well received as their peanut butter counterparts, but sunflower ice cream and frosting did not perform as well, with study participants reporting the flavor was too strong. Thunyaporn Jeradechachai, a crop quality specialist at the Northern Crops Institute, led that study. She hasn’t given up on sunflower butter ice cream, though. “I’m hoping it will be in the market soon,” she says. When it does hit the shelves, it will be joining a widerange of sunflower seed-based products, including tortilla chips, crackers, cookies, cereals and cakes that are being sold in several countries, including Spain, Brazil, China, Sweden and Colombia, as well as in the U.S. There is also a sunflower butter version of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup produced by Boulder, CO-based Seth Ellis Chocolatier, LLC called Sun Cups. Jeradechachai has also experimented with using sunflower seeds in granola bars to give them a nut-like taste and feel. “It’s a very versatile product,” she says.
Argentina’s Historic Drought By Charlie Higgins Farmers in the country’s main bean-producing provinces of Salta and Jujuy battle the region’s worst dry spell in 70 years. Even if you’ve never set foot onto a bean field, it’s easy to tell when one is suffering from severe drought. The land appears parched and lifeless, with minimal plant growth save for a few scattered weeds and shriveled pods. For bean growers who depend on the health of their crop to obtain consistent yields, this image spells disaster. Such images of scorched fields showing significant—in many cases total—crop damage have become the norm this year in the Argentine provinces of Salta and Jujuy, the country’s main bean producing region. What began as concern over crop yields in February has become a regional crisis with national implications. The total losses caused by the drought, the worst in 70 years, are worth an estimated 3.2 billion pesos (roughly US$ 608 million). Dry edible beans, along with soybeans, corn, peanuts and chia, are among the most severely damaged crops, with average yield losses of 30%. In the driest areas, average losses are as much as 70%, and many growers are simply not bothering to harvest their crop this year. In Salta, an unprecedented 20,000 hectares normally dedicated to agricultural production were left unseeded due to lack of rain during the planting season. Production levels for soybean and corn, vital cash crops for the region and the country as a whole, demonstrate the level of destruction. Only 300,000 MT of soybeans will be harvested, down from a yearly average of 1.8 million MT. The average annual yield for corn is around 900,000 MT, and this year that number will barely reach 200,000 MT. Bean production was hit particularly hard, with total production at 30,000 MT down from the 300,000 MT average. 18 IFTmag
Figures aside, the drought has generated widespread desperation and uncertainty in the region, where thousands of migrant and low-income workers depend on the harvest for their livelihood. All ten of the companies surveyed by Salta’s El Tribuno were forced to layoff employees, in most cases about 50% of their staff. Suffice it to say, the socio-economic effects of the drought have been devastating.
Cumulative Drought Adding salt to the wound is the fact that last year’s drought, though less severe, left producers in a state of recovery hoping that 2013 would be different. After nearly a decade of growth, particularly in the area of soybean production, Argentina’s northern provinces experienced their worst drought in 40 years, resulting in huge losses. Soybean and corn were the hardest hit crops. Alarm bells first went off in January 2012, when the normally wet central plains region, which includes Santa Fe, Cordoba, La Pampa and Buenos Aires provinces, experienced unusually dry conditions and flash fires. Rain eventually fell in these areas, but the drought continued to affect producers in Salta, Chaco and Santiago Del Estero until as late as April. Many farms in the north reported significant crop damage as a result of last year’s drought. Not surprisingly, growers were apprehensive about this year’s situation, but scattered early rains provided enough reason to risk planting. Mecera says this was a gamble that proved fatal as the climatic reality began to set in. Bean farmers in the region can be broken down into two categories: those who waited and those who did not. When all was said and done, however, those who decided to plant earlier or later in the season both witnessed similar outcomes: significant or total crop failure. Even in the best of cases where enough bean was present to warrant harvesting, quality issues have discouraged this from happening. 20 IFTmag
Dry Beans: A Lost Cause? Black beans and alubia beans fared particularly badly, with typical (potential) yields of less than 100 pounds per acre and 300 pounds per acre respectively. Some fields suffered from drought early on, received moderate rainfall and then dried up again, resulting in immature or malformed plants. The lack of moisture also reduced the effectiveness of herbicides, resulting in excess weeds that in turn competed with bean plants for moisture. Light red kidney beans fared relatively better, though quality was certainly compromised because of the adverse weather. Potential yield for one light red kidney plot was estimated at around 400 pounds per acre, though discoloration and stunted growth were observed.
Repercussions With many companies expecting little or no income between now and May 2014, the socio-economic impacts of the drought are widespread and varied. As with any natural disaster, those with the least undoubtedly suffer most. Recently dozens of laid-off workers gathered in the town square of Embarcación, a small agrarian town in Salta, to solicit help and raise awareness. Without a bean harvest to speak of, the roughly 15,000 migrant workers who would normally tend the fields have been told there’s no work for them. Most processing plants, of which there are 36 in Sal-
ta alone, are also huge sources of employment for low-skilled workers in the region. Many didn’t even bother opening their doors this year. A maximum of 500,000 pesos in bank credits have been promised to producers, but many feel this is inadequate to bear the weight of two years’ drought. A few larger companies like Desdelsur have the financial resources to bounce back, but they are anomalies. “Alternatives for big companies like ours are available. We are currently negotiating planting in wet areas such as Buenos Aires, betting on crops like peas. If we lacked the structure and financial backing that we have, we’d be in trouble because all you can really do is wait until next year,” Mecera explained. When asked whether he believed the government was taking the necessary actions to support the industry, Mecera expressed doubts: “The local government is doing practically nothing. I suppose we may see some sort of tax break, but so far nothing concrete. In general the Argentine government is a partner in the profits of the land but not in the losses.”
A New Method of Measuring Protein By Charlie Higgins The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommends new standards for assessing dietary protein quality. Bad news for pulses? When the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released its “Dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition” report this year, the International Dairy Federation (IDF) was quick to announce its support for the proposed changes for measuring the quality of dietary proteins. Using the new Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) measurement, milk and other dairy products score significantly higher than plant proteins, which tend to perform better under the current preferred method of Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).
“With DIAAS, high quality proteins, such as the proteins from milk, whey and other dairy products, may score 30% higher than when using the older method for assessing quality. It clearly demonstrates the superiority of dairy proteins compared to plant proteins,” explained Angela Rowan, leader of the IDF Action Team on Proteins. “It will provide decision makers and consumers with accurate information when assessing which foods should be part of a sustainable diet for our growing global population.”
The soybean industry was quick to defend itself:
“DIAAS could be useful in developing countries which suffer from malnutrition in order to identify the protein source which could help to compensate for shortage of certain amino acids, e.g. where consumption of grain is high, the essential amino acid lysine is in short supply,” wrote the European Natural Soyfoods Associations (ENSA). “However in western countries there is no shortage of amino acids thanks to the varied diet; therefore the new proposed method is not that relevant. In western diets it is important to maintain a varied balanced diet including protein from different sources.”
While it remains to be seen whether the shift from PDCAAS to DIAAS has a drastic and immediate effect on global food trade, the FAO’s proposal certainly raises some valid concerns for the pulse industry. Under the new recommendations, heart-healthy plant proteins like lentils, pinto beans and chickpeas would fail to make the “cutoff” for protein quality claims. The FAO has also proposed that the new reference for protein amounts required by humans be based on amino acid requirements for 6-month-old children. Dairy 3, plant proteins 0. While there are certainly arguments to be made against the DIAAS method (for one, that it typically relied on animal as opposed to human data), its main objective—to support the health and wellbeing of human populations by optimizing the use of protein—is sound and timely. There is evidence that demand for milk protein is growing across the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa, and the FAO report reflects this situation. But despite their apparent protein power, dairy products come from cows and thus present a doubleedged sword when it comes to the sustainability and future of our agricultural economy. As ENSA puts it, plant proteins have a much better track record “in terms of water use, land use and carbon footprint.”
From PER to DIAAS According to Pulse Canada, the world needs approximately 128 billion kg of protein annually to feed a population of 7 billion people. Our main protein sources are meat, eggs, dairy products and plants, but the protein profile of these foods varies substantially. Identifying high quality protein sources that are readily digestible and contain the essential amino acid requirements for human development is crucial for determining everything from product labels to nutritional standards. In 1993 the international community adopted the PDCAAS method, which determined protein quality based on the amino acid requirements of a 2- to 5-year-old child. PDCAAS proved to be more accurate than the previous method (PER), which used data derived from experiments with rats primarily, and tended to even out the playing field between plant and animal proteins.
The PDCAAS method measures protein quality by comparing a specific food protein’s amino acid profile to a standard amino acid profile, with 1.0 being the highest possible score. This score means that at the end of the digestive cycle, the food provides 100% or more of the required amino acids per unit of protein. According to the FAO, the main advantage of using DIAAS over PDCAAS is that the former determines amino acid digestibility at the end of the small intestine whereas the later is based on the total digestive tract. Some foods may have higher protein content, but since the small intestine does not absorb all amino acids equally, they may actually be less efficient than foods with lower protein content. The FAO also criticized PDCAAS’ use of truncation, which gives high protein sources like milk powder and eggs a 1.0 rating even though milk protein is of higher quality.
The Challenge For Pulses In the United States, the current PDCAAS cutoff value for making a protein claim is 20. Under the new FAO recommendations, however, the cutoff value for protein claims will be raised to 75 (DIAAS), which means pulses will be left in the dust by foods like milk powder (121) and whole egg (118). Peas and chickpeas have relatively high DIAAS scores (73 and 67 respectively), but they fall just shy of the cutoff. Moreover, the FAO’s new amino acid requirements, which are based on the diet of a 6-month old baby, clearly favor milk and animal proteins, which tend to be richer than pulses in the essential amino acids lysine and methionine. Pulses score higher when amino acid requirements are based on the diet of a 2- to 5-yearold child, as is the case with the PDCAAS method. While the transition from PDCAAS to DIAAS could prove to be rocky for the pulse industry, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. At this year’s CICILS conference in Singapore, Pulse Canada’s Tanya Der demonstrated that pulses, which are rich in lysine and low in methionine, and cereal grains, which are rich in methionine and low in lysine, can be combined to create a complete protein. This is just one way pulses can be marketed differently to better compete with animal proteins.
Northern Crops Institute
is Revolutionizing the Pulse World By Dario Bard International visitors to Fargo-based NCI learn how to substitute eggs with peas and other amazing feats.
According to John Crabtree, Assistant Director of the Fargo-based Northern Crops Institute (NCI), North Dakota is witnessing an agricultural revolution. It started 10 to 12 years ago, he says, when significant acreages of corn and soybeans moved into the Red River Valley, a fertile region shared by North Dakota and Minnesota. “These two states are mostly known for their spring wheat, but now we are seeing new crops emerge, like peas and lentils, which are typically grown in the Pacific Northwest.” What has this meant for NCI? “Pulses have become an important addition to our educational programs and technical services,” says Crabtree. “NCI is a cooperative effort between the northern states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana,” explains Mark Weber, NCI’s director. The mission of the institute is to promote the crops produced in this region of the U.S.
NCI crop quality specialist Thunyaporn Jeradechachai hosted a group of food processors from Southeast Asia in mid-May. “We used flour made from dry edible beans, peas and lentils to make a Cheetos-type snack,” she says. “We demonstrated extrusion technology in our laboratory facilities. By doing so, they learned how to make the product, so they can introduce it back home.” Jeradechachai has also taught other international visitors to make baked goods using pulse flour. “It’s really nutritious and has a lot of health benefits.” Those benefits include high protein and fiber content.
“We tell people what kind of crops we grow here, how they can be utilized, and how they can be purchased. We do not teach farmers how to grow crops, but rather how to utilize them. We do this through a series of educational courses where we invite processors, buyers, commodity traders and others from all over the world to come here and learn about what we have to offer. We’ve hosted visitors from 130 different countries.”
Above: Participants at NCI’s Edible Bean Quality and Utilization Short Course.
“At NCI, we try to find ways to use pulses in different food products. We are also replacing egg in cookies, cakes and waffles. In pasta, we also can replace egg protein with pea protein.” Jeradechachai has found new and interesting uses for pea starch, for making noodles and gummi candy, for instance, and as a thickener for ice cream. “On the beverage side, we are making high-protein drinks with pulses, even smoothies. And instead of soymilk, we have pea milk, which is really nutritious and low in allergens.” NCI receives its funding from the four-state commodity groups and the legislatures of each participating state. “We have an unusual situation here,” remarks Crabtree, “because we have other states appropriating dollars to the Institute.” In 1981, thanks to the backing of growers, the North Dakota State Legislature appropriated dollars for the construction of the NCI facility on the campus of North Dakota State University (NDSU). “When commodity organizations in the neighboring states learned of the groundbreaking, they decided to join forces with us because they basically grow the same crops. So all four states, through the commodity groups or state funds, provide dollars to keep NCI going.”
“We also partner with the scientific community,” adds Weber. “One of the advantages of being located on the campus of North Dakota State University is that we can draw from the tremendous wealth of experience from the various professors of the departments we work with, including the Food and Cereal Science Department, the Agribusiness and Economics Department, and other departments on campus. We use that expertise when we host educational courses. University professors give lectures and provide laboratory demonstrations. We also draw expertise from the other land-grant universities in this region: the University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University and Montana State University.”
One such contribution from the academic world is NDSU’s Commodity Trading Room run by Dr. William Wilson, a distinguished professor from the Agribusiness and Economics Department.
can range from 3 days to a week, depending on the client’s needs. Interested parties are encouraged to contact NCI for details.
In the Commodity Trading Room, Wilson uses computer simulations of market scenarios to teach participants risk-management strategies, such as hedging and the use of options and derivatives.
“This region leads the U.S. in the production of about 13 or 14 different crops,” says Weber. “We have very diverse agriculture in this northern region.” Given this agricultural wealth, it is perhaps no surprise that an institute of NCI’s caliber was established in Fargo, North Dakota.
“This is the only trading room devoted to agriculture,” notes Crabtree. “Dr. Wilson modeled it after an energy trading room at Tulane University.” The Commodity Trading Room offers tailored made courses that
“There are only three or four similar institutes like NCI in the world,” observes Crabtree.
Left to right: Assistant Director John Crabtree, Crop Quality Specialist Thunyaporn Jeradechachai, Technical Services and Business Development Director David Hahn and Director Mark Weber.
“Commodity trading has changed significantly over the years, particularly with the shift from government buying to private trading,” says Crabtree. “And we’ve seen significant changes worldwide in agriculture as far as uses. Ethanol, for instance, has changed the whole complexity of the corn market. We are probably up to 45% now of the corn being used in the ethanol industry here in the United States. This has created a lot of volatility in the markets which has increased risk for commodity merchandisers.”
Yunnan Government Assisting Farmers with Kidney Bean Farming By Dr. Randall Fairman On April 8, a Chinese periodical reported that the LuShui County Government in Yunnan Province is providing villagers with purple speckled kidney beans to plant on their farms. The village leadership believes they are ushering in a season of new hope as they give people opportunities to begin growing valuable beans on their private land. Forty two families are participating in this experiment, planting a total of 100 kg of seeds. “Beans of hope” Are Given to Lushui Farmers in Yunnan Province. The regional commercial bureau began working last year to help find ways to build the economy here. They found that the climate and land conditions were similar to other places where kidney beans have been successfully grown. In particular, they found that the center of GaoLiGong Mountain has conditions that are quite suitable to the growth of kidney beans. This region consists of marginal lands not very well suited to other potential cash crops. In addition to the cash value of the beans it is found that the stems, leaves and pods are ideal for cattle feed after crushing. The flowers are also a good source of honey. The similarity of this region with Lanping County gives great hope that kidney beans will also be successful here. The farmers interviewed stated that they had heard about these “golden beans” but did not know where to find the seeds. They are very thankful to the government for bringing in this potential new source of income and they plan to do a good job growing them. To put this into perspective, consider the chart above. You can see that total kidney bean exports from Yunnan Province have represented around 5% of total kidney bean exports from China each of the last 5 years. In the short term, it seems likely that these government efforts will have a relatively small effect on total production numbers because Yunnan currently has a relatively small fraction of the national total. In the long term, there are many more of these marginal lands throughout Yunnan Province that could increase kidney bean production in coming years. It will be important to track the Yunnan kidney bean production over the coming years.
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