Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, has welcomed the International Year of Pulses 2016 as a chance for all Australians to discover more about the valuable contribution these crops make to agriculture and our economy.
Minister Ruston recognised the importance of the year and the industry at an industry gala dinner in Melbourne last night.
"Australia's pulse industry is going from strength to strength, and we are certainly proud to be recognised as one of the world's biggest exporters," Minister Ruston said.
"Many would not know that Australia is actually the largest exporter of faba beans and chickpeas in the world, and the 2015-16 forecast signals a 56 per cent growth in our export earnings for chickpeas.
"The Coalition Government continues to pursue the best possible market access opportunities for Australian pulse producers, recently finalising an agreement for lupins to India and the resumption of lentil trade to Saudi Arabia—and we also continue to work on free trade agreements with India and Indonesia.
"Under the Package Assisting Small Exporters programme, the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia received a $130,000 grant to develop an export market strategy for lupins to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"Pulses, which include chickpeas, faba or broad beans, field peas, lentils, lupins and mung beans, are not only valuable crops in their own right, but they're also great for the soil, where they fix nitrogen and contribute to soil fertility so are beneficial in crop rotation.
"For farmers pulses are extremely valuable crops which can lower input costs and dramatically reduce stubble borne wheat diseases like crown rot as well as providing animal feed.
"For the consumer, they're a low fat source of protein with high fibre, vitamins and minerals with a low glycaemic index which have been shown to help prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease."
The United Nations launched the International Year of Pulses 2016 in November 2015. The government, through its agriculture Minister-Counsellor in Rome, is supporting the industry's efforts engaging the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which oversees the international year.