The role of legume production and use in European agri food systems

Posted: 20.05.2022
Legumes can play a crucial role in making European agri-food systems more sustainable by improving the environmental performance as well as resource-efficiency and contributing to a higher level of protein self-sufficiency. Based on considerations of current legume production and consumption in Europe, this guide illustrates effects of integrating legume in cropping and consumption systems and discusses thereby agronomic, environmental and economic effects. It is shown that European legume cropping and use still do not play a significant role, although there seems to be a very slow reversal of the decline in legume consumption and production in agri-food systems. Legume crops showed clear impacts on environment-friendly production systems and protein self-sufficiency. However, the economic performance and particularly the competitiveness of legumes build a considerable challenge for the (re-)integration in European farming which makes specific efforts for developing market outlets and value chains in order to rise legume selling prices and for raising crop performance using genetic and agronomic improvement necessary. Policy interventions that support an increase of legumes’ on-farm performance and competitiveness as well as foster sustainable protein consumption patterns are therefore key.

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Acknowledgement: Legumes Translated has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innnovation programme under grant agreement No. 817634.

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