Legumes represent the most affordable source of protein and micro-nutrients available to the rural and urban poor and are especially important to hundreds of millions of women and children living in Africa and South Asia. Nutrition experts note that legumes are nutrient-dense and provide an essential complement to the starches derived from cereals and root crops. The nutritional value of grain legumes is attributable to their high nutrient composition (e.g., protein, complex carbohydrates, essential minerals and fatty acids), as well as properties that promote nutrient absorption and reduce gut inflammation.
Additionally, the ability of grain legumes to fix atmospheric nitrogen and deposit it in the soil is a major benefit to farmers and the landscapes in which they work. By gradually releasing nitrogen from decaying root and leaf biomass they have accumulated from atmospheric nitrogen during their growth, grain legumes add nitrogen to the soil for use by subsequent non-fixing crops such as cereals and starch root crops. Consequently, legume crops boost starch staple crop yields where fertilizers are not used, and offset the need for purchase of expensive nitrogen fertilizers. They have other benefits in cropping systems, helping to break the growth cycles of destructive weeds and diseases and providing nutritious fodder that boosts livestock health and yields.
TL III will be addressing the following specific problems: