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Global and Regional Trends in Production, Trade and Consumption of Food Legume Crops


  • Akibode, Comlanvi Sitou
  • Maredia, Mywish K.


Food legumes play an important and diverse role in the farming systems and in the diets of poor people around the world. They are ideal crops for simultaneously achieving three developmental goals in targeted population—reducing poverty, improving human health and nutrition, and enhancing ecosystem resilience. This report provides global and regional trend analysis and sheds light on the pulse crop production, price, trade, and consumption patterns observed in the developing world, developed countries and globally from mid-1990s to 2008. The study is conducted through a review of secondary data and published research and analysis reports, and presents data and analysis for cereals to compare and contextualize the trends, patterns and outlook for pulses. Globally, the harvested area under pulse crops is about one-tenth the harvested area under all cereal crops and a high proportion of pulse area harvested is under rainfed-low input systems compared to cereal crops. Thus, in 2008, the average global yields of pulse crops (0.86 t/ha) was only about one-fourth the average yields of cereal crops (3.54 t/ha). On the bright side, over the past 14 years, the overall pulse production has increased at a rate higher than the growth rate in population both in developing and developed countries. Over this time period, SSA has led the developing world in terms of contribution to production growth through growth in yield (but with a low base). A major share of the pulse production growth rate in developed countries has been area expansion, especially in countries like Canada. In terms of production growth rate among major pulse crops, cowpeas and soybean in West Africa have shown the biggest increase, which are followed by pigeon peas and dry beans. However the overall picture for faba beans, chickpeas and lentils over the last 14 years has not been so favorable with small positive growth rate for faba beans and an overall negative growth rate for lentils due to decline in area. Farm-gate prices for pulses have fluctuated during the past 14 years due to supply and demand mismatch, and have experienced an upward pressure recently. This pressure is expected to continue in the near future but may be reversed in the medium and long term. Over the past 14 years, developing countries on aggregate have increasingly met their growing pulse requirements through increased imports and have now become net importers of pulses. Trade in pulses grew more rapidly between 1994 and 2008 than output. The expansion in international trade of pulses has provided a good opportunity for several developing and developed countries to expand their exports. China, Myanmar and Argentina, among developing countries, and Canada, U.S. and Australia among developed countries have emerged as major exporters of pulses. However, despite this rapid growth in exports and imports, pulse trade remains a relatively thin market, especially when compared to other food commodities, such as cereals and oil crops. On the demand side, over the past 14 years, a stable and modest positive trend in per capita consumption is observed within the context of a declining overall historical trend. This declining historical trend in per capita consumption of pulses is expected to continue into the future. Dietary patterns are changing all over the world and the share of non-cereal foods in the total calorie and protein consumption is increasing. However, at least over the past 14 years, pulses have not seen a dramatic decline in the total calorie and protein contribution as seen by the cereal crops. Household level survey data from India show the continuing importance of pulses as a source of protein in poor people’s diet, despite the overall changing dietary pattern, rising income and declining per capita consumption of pulses.

Suggested Citation

  • Akibode, Comlanvi Sitou & Maredia, Mywish K., 2012. "Global and Regional Trends in Production, Trade and Consumption of Food Legume Crops," Staff Papers 136293, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:midasp:136293

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mubarik Ali & Abedullah, 1998. "Supply, Demand, and Policy Environment for Pulses in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 37(1), pages 35-52.
    2. Raghav Gaiha & Raghbendra Jha & Vani S. Kulkarni, 2010. "Prices, Expenditure and Nutrition in India," ASARC Working Papers 2010-15, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.
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    Cited by:

    1. Haggblade, Steven & Boughton, Duncan & Kham, L Seng & Thaung, Myo, 2014. "Winds of Change:A Rapid Appraisal of Four Pulse Value Chains in Myanmar," Miscellaneous Publications 234953, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    2. Boughton, Duncan & Haggblade, Steve & Kham, L & Kongabaugh, Steve & Thaung, Myo, 2015. "Overcoming Isolation: An Exploration of the Rapid Growth in Pulse Exports from Myanmar," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211365, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Larochelle, Catherine & Katungi, Enid & Cheng, Zhen, 2016. "Household consumption and demand for bean in Uganda: Determinants and implications for nutrition security," 2016 AAAE Fifth International Conference, September 23-26, 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 246457, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    4. Joshi, Pramod Kumar & Rao, P. Parthasarathy, 2016. "Global and regional pulse economies: Current trends and outlook:," IFPRI discussion papers 1544, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Inbasekar, Kalimuthu & Roy, Devesh & Joshi, Pramod Kumar, 2015. "Supply-side dynamics of chickpeas and pigeon peas in India:," IFPRI discussion papers 1454, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item


    Grain legumes; Pulse crops; Production; Trade; Consumption; Developing countries; Agricultural development; Agricultural and Food Policy; Demand and Price Analysis; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; International Development; International Relations/Trade; Production Economics; Productivity Analysis; Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies; Q11; Q16; Q18;

    JEL classification:

    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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