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The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) defines pulses as annual leguminous crops yielding from one to 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed.
The term pulses, as used by the FAO, is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry grain and therefore excludes green beans and green peas, which are considered vegetable crops. Also excluded are crops which are mainly grown for oil extraction, like soybeans and peanuts, and crops which are used exclusively for sowing (clovers, alfalfa).
India is both the world's largest producer and the world's largest importer of pulses.
Classification of pulses
FAO recognizes 11 primary pulses.
- Dry beans (Phaseolus spp. including several species now in Vigna)
- Kidney bean, haricot bean, pinto bean, navy bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
- Lima bean, butter bean (Vigna lunatus)
- Azuki bean, adzuki bean (Vigna angularis)
- Mung bean, golden gram, green gram (Vigna radiata)
- Black gram, Urd (Vigna mungo)
- Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus)
- Rice bean (Vigna umbellata)
- Moth bean (Vigna acontifolia)
- Tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius)
- Dry broad beans (Vicia faba)
- Dry peas (Pisum spp.)
- Garden pea (Pisum sativum var. sativum)
- Protein pea (Pisum sativun var. arvense)
- Chickpea, Garbonzo, Bengal gram (Cicer arietinum)
- Dry cowpea, Black-eyed_pea, blackeye bean (Vigna unguiculata ssp. dekindtiana)
- Pigeon pea, cajan pea, congo bean (Cajanus cajan)
- Lentil (Lens culinaris)
- Bambara groundnut, earth pea (Vigna subterranea)
- Vetch, common vetch (Vicia sativa)
- Lupins (Lupinus spp.)
- Minor pulses include:
- Food and Agriculture Organisation. DEFINITION AND CLASSIFICATION OF COMMODITIES, 4. PULSES AND DERIVED PRODUCTS, 1994
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