Jakarta. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, is promoting pulse-based dishes in an effort to tackle food shortages in Indonesia, after witnessing that many poor households lack access to protein from meat, dairy and fish.
According to the FAO, around 20 million Indonesians are facing a real threat of starvation, and pulses—which include beans, lentils and peas—can help stop it.
“It is time for us to promote the richness and diversity of many dishes made from pulse in this country. Pulses are proven effective in boosting nutrition. It's healthy food that is accessible to all,” FAO Indonesia's Associate Professional Officer Jiwon Rhee said in Jakarta on Thursday (02/06).
Rhee cited the example of people who in East Nusa Tenggara who have embraced pulses as the key ingredient in a staple dish called "caternak" corn, made of maize mixed with peas.
Rhee said pulses are an inexpensive source of protein—a crucial component in any healthy diet—compared to meat, dairy or fish.
Pulses can also be a source of income for small farmers who can grow pulses to sell as raw products, or process them into added-value products, Rhee said.
Another less obvious benefit from pulses is that some 190 million hectares of land planted with pulses around the world has already contributed five to seven million tonnes of nitrogen in the soil. As pulses can produce their own nitrogen in the soil, they need less fertilizers, organic or synthetic, and in this way, they play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Growing pulses will benefit farmers and have a positive impact on the environment. Pulses will play an important role in our sustainable future,” Rhee said.
To spread the gospel of pulse, the FAO staged "Science Fair: International Year of Pulses 2016" at the Cikal Amri School in East Jakarta. The main theme of the fair was pulses and their uses, which the public could learn from a series of interactive activities including a hydroponics workshop, poster-making and a cooking competition.
“At first I was really confused, I didn’t know what the fair was about, what the purpose was... but the presentations made it really clear to me,” Aisha, a 6th grader, said.
“I think it's brilliant that peas can be a solution to world hunger. I want to eat more peas,” Aisha said.