“Nutritious seeds for a sustainable future “, with these words, FAO said 2016 the International Year of Legumes, with the aim of increasing their knowledge about nutritional properties, make discover the benefits of their (re) introduction into the diet and increase production and trade.
Globally, and in a local dimension, the production of protein crops is strategical both food reasons, both for dealing with climate change, the promotion of biodiversity and to better management of natural resources, not to mention the potential income effects of farmers.
To human health and food security, all legumes, low in fat and high in fiber, are a good source of vegetable protein and combined with grains, such as pasta and beans, rice and lentils, pasta and chickpeas, reach a composition of essential amino acids comparable to that of meat. The high nutritional value makes them perfect to combat malnutrition, understood both as a lack of food and as, on the contrary, overeating.
In the context of climate change, the production of protein crops can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the assimilation and fixation of nitrogen in the soil (amounting up to 100 pounds of nitrogen per hectare per month), thereby reducing the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, whose warming potential through the nitrous oxide is three hundred and ten times higher than the carbon dioxide.
In terms of soil fertility, a higher percentage of protein crops as part of a wider use of rotation systems and crop rotation, contributes to more balanced nutrient storage, to less acidification of soils, a higher resistance to disease as well as to a better structure of the soil, at a reduced use of herbicides (sustainable agriculture) and greater biodiversity conducive to pollination.