Researchers from Charles Sturt University (CSU) are leading a $2.3 million project to assist small landholders in Pakistan to enhance pulse production.
The project through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
It brings together researchers with a variety of expertise to work with Pakistani farmers to improve the way lentil, chickpea and groundnut crops are grown and to add value to the pulses through better processing technology.
Graham Centre research pathway leader for grain and meat quality, and Director of the Functional Grains Centre, Professor Chris Blanchard said, "Australia has successfully become a major pulse exporter and there's much we can share and learn."
"Farmers in Pakistan, with assistance from the researchers, will undertake agronomic trials and examine site-specific village-based seed production and look at how to add value to the pulses after harvest.
"Food technologists will investigate how the grains can be used in value added products suitable for the local market, while social scientists will look at how new technology can be introduced into farming systems in a way that fits with local cultural practices," Professor Blanchard said.
Project leader, CSU senior research associate Dr Ata-ur Rehman and Associate Professor Gavin Ramsay have just returned from Pakistan.
"The five-year project is focusing on the Punjab, Sindh, Baloshistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions of Pakistan," Professor Ramsay said. "Engaging local farming families in the research is at the heart of the project."
"Over the past 20 years pulse production in Pakistan has decreased, while improved cereal production practices has led to greater production of rice and wheat," Dr Rehman said.
"Pulses like chickpeas, lentils and groundnuts, or peanuts, are an important source of protein and dietary fibre.
"Re-introducing these pulses into cropping systems would have nutritional, economic and environmental benefits and has been identified as a priority for agriculture development by the Pakistan government." Dr Rehman said.
The project involves researchers from CSU, the Pakistan National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), provincial research institutes and universities in Pakistan, Pulse Australia and a Riverina farming systems group, Farmlink Research.