THE United Nations has declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses.
This follows 2015’s International Year of Soils.
The official global launch was held in Rome in November, but Australia will have its launch with an opening ceremony and gala dinner in Melbourne on January 28.
Australian IYP national committee chairwoman, global awareness committee member and managing director of the grains and legumes nutrition council Georgie Aley said the key point to the January launch was for global consumers to be more involved.
"Haakan Bahceci of the Global Pulse Confederation pushed the Turkish government to move the motion for there to be an International Year of Pulses," Ms Aley said.
Ms Aley said Mr Bahceci would attend the launch in Melbourne which would be opened by the Water Minister Senator Anne Ruston.
"We're expecting about 250 people at the launch dinner, where we will auction everything from holiday homes to pulses to raise money for awareness and promotion of IYP," she said.
She said IYP represented a significant opportunity to showcase Australia as a key supplier of pulses globally while raising its overall awareness as a versatile, nutritious food.
"We're focused on the consumer side, we want to show that legumes and pulses are low on the glycemic index, high protein and contain all the key nutrients for good health," she said.
"Pulses are good for managing diseases and diet, like glucose levels, diabetes and cholesterol.”
Pulse Australia chairman, national committee member and Australia Milling Group chairman Peter Wilson said IYP was well supported by the Australian government after being UN endorsed.
"To highlight pulses in terms of the production side, they reduce costs, risks and increase productivity and profit," Mr Wilson said.
"From a nutritional perspective, they provide nutrition, protein, energy, starch and fibre.”
Mr Wilson said from a grower’s perspective, it was a sustainable crop because of its taproot and water efficiency.
"Pulses are used to break crop rotation cycles, it doesn't need much fertiliser, it generates its own nitrogen and has a small carbon footprint. Effectively they have an enormous role to play," he said.
"The global pulse industry decided a year around pulses would offer so much in terms of production and consumption."
He said Australia was one of three countries recognised for producing high-quality pulse products.
"Already we are seeing opportunities to improve exports with new free trade agreements. We’ve already got ready markets we can tap into."