The 2nd Rencontres Francophones sur les Légumineuses, or 2nd Meeting of the French-speaking World on Legumes, which was held on 17 and 18 October in Toulouse, focused on how beneficial these precious foodstuffs are for agriculture, food and the environment.
Lentils, peas, soybeans, fava beans, lupin beans, alfalfa, dry beans, cowpeas, vetch, sainfoin,… the list of legumes goes on and on. They are distinguished by their wide variety of shape, colour, and taste. They are not a staple food in our diets, even though they deserve to become an integral part of our eating patterns. In any event, the spotlight was on legumes during the Rencontres Francophones sur les Légumineuses.
“Legume innovation, for the world and for mankind”
The Meeting of the French-speaking World on Legumes was open to all French-speaking countries, more specifically countries in North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. The second iteration of this conference attracted just under 300 farmers, agronomists, nutritionists, food producers, researchers and policy-makers, and several world-class speakers shared their knowledge. These meetings are a unique opportunity to establish partnerships and develop collective strategies involving various stakeholders in the agricultural and agri-food world. Their mission is to solve the main challenges that are currently associated with the production of legumes, such as food security or the the adaptation to climate change.
Why are legumes so beneficial?
In addition to having a particularly interesting nutritional profile, legumes also have several valuable agronomic and environmental benefits. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria colonise the roots of these legumes in the soil, converting the gas from the air to a plant available form. They increase soil fertility and reduce the need for nitrogen fertilisation. This property is also useful for the following crops or in intercropping where legumes are grown with another crop and release the nitrogen they fixate. The reduced dependence on nitrogen fertilisers also has a substantial positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Legumes can also be stored for a long time, without any effect on their nutritional properties, which helps reduce the food waste problem. Finally, legumes can also help fight hunger and malnutrition around the world because they are cheap and a rich source of protein.