Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

March 19, 2009 12:00 ET

Government of Canada Will Boost Bottom Line for Farmers by Investing in Pulse Industry

SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - March 19, 2009) - The Government of Canada is investing in the pulse industry so that farmers can harness new market opportunities and boost their bottom line. MP Kelly Block (Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar) and MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt) today announced $5.3 million for the Pulse Research Network (PURENet) to create new economic opportunities in rural Canada.

"Our Government knows that Canadian farmers are the backbone of our economy and that it's especially important during this time of economic instability to help them succeed," said MP Trost, who made the announcement on behalf of Federal Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz. "This initiative will explore new health benefits of pulses to create new and value added-markets, which will help farmers improve their bottom line and boost the economy."

Pulses are the edible seeds of legumes, such as peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. The network will focus on developing new products from pulses, creating more sustainable and environmentally-friendly crops, and developing healthier pulses that can be used in the food and nutraceuticals industry. Canadian farmers have quadrupled pulse production in less than 20 years, and pulse exports have increased by more than five times, with a value of more than $1 billion.

"It's not surprising that Canada leads in both pulse production and exports," said MP Block. "This kind of agricultural innovation will continue to help the pulse industry grow, will help Canadian agriculture grow, and will help the Canadian economy grow domestically and abroad."

Led by Pulse Canada and managed by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, PURENet is made up of about 50 scientists, researchers and industry experts, including those from the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Manitoba, the University of Alberta, the Canadian International Grains Institute, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Saskatchewan Research Council.

"Not only is the health and nutrition potential of Canadian pulses enormous, pulses are grown in such a way that they make a positive contribution to the environment," said David Nobbs, Vice Chair of Pulse Canada. "The goal of PURENet is to provide innovative solutions for using pulses to develop value-added food, feed and industrial bioproducts that meet market demands for healthy, environmentally-friendly products."

For additional information about ABIP, please visit



PURENet will develop and expand the use of pulses by conducting research in three areas:

- Bioproduct Development

New products from pulse starch, protein, and seed hull applications (e.g., slowly digestible starch, biodegradable bioplastics for packaging and disposable cutlery, bioethanol, industrial absorbents to clean up spills) will allow Canadian food companies to process pulses more efficiently and to get more value out of them, and will increase North Americans' pulse consumption.

- Sustainable Production of Crops

New management strategies will optimize the environmental benefits of pulse crops, maximize the nitrogen fixation by pulse crops to improve soil fertility, and quantify the environmental and greenhouse gas credit by using Life Cycle Analysis (analysis of the environmental impact of a product during the entirety of its life-cycle).

- Feed Development

New, nutritionally-enriched pulse crops will be used as functional foods and nutraceuticals, and as a feedstock for extracting valuable bioactives by food manufacturers in Canada.

Pulses are high in complex carbohydrates, protein and fibre, and are low in fat and sodium. Research suggests that pulses lead to lower serum cholesterol and tryglycerides, which are two risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Pulses also have a low glycemic index, which is especially beneficial to people with diabetes. Researchers hope their findings will lead to the inclusion of pulse-based diets in healthy living guidelines, to manage important health conditions faced by many Canadians.


The Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program (ABIP) is designed to promote research, development, technology transfer and the commercialization of agricultural bioproducts, including biofuels, in Canada.

The program will benefit farmers by generating new agricultural knowledge and technology and facilitating its transfer to those that can commercialize these innovations for the benefit of farmers and others in Canada's bioeconomy.

The program supports the establishment, development and operation of bioproducts research networks that focus on:

- Feedstock production through the development of crop platforms and cropping systems suitable for conversion to bioproducts;

- Developing effective and efficient technologies for biomass conversion; and

- Product diversification through technologies relevant to production of bioproducts (e.g. industrial chemicals, biomaterials and health products).

For additional information about the Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program (ABIP) and other Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada programs please visit

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Meagan Murdoch
    Press Secretary