Canada's Chick Pea Industry
Chick pea (Cicer arietinum), is a cool season plant primarily grown in Saskatchewan. The two commercial types of chick peas produced are kabuli and desi. Kabuli chick peas, also known as garbanzo beans, have a larger, cream-coloured seed with a thin seed coat, while the desi type has a smaller, darker coloured seed with a thick seed coat. Within these two types are a number of distinct varieties grown in Canada, including: Sanford kabuli, Dwelley kabuli, B-90 kabuli, CDC Yuma kabuli, CDC Xena kabuli, Myles desi, and CDC Desiray desi.
Chick peas are best adapted to the soil zones of south-western Saskatchewan and south-eastern Alberta. In these regions production problems and crop diseases are less common. The most serious disease affecting chick pea production is ascochyta blight. In regions where this blight is present, chick peas should not be seeded in the same field more than once every four years. Chick pea production works well in rotation with cereal grains such as spring or durum wheat.
Pulses, including chick peas, are increasingly being used in healthy diets in order to promote general well-being and to reduce the risk of illness. Information from the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA), a research alliance which includes the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University, shows that chick peas are an excellent source of protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
In addition, fibre from chick peas is known to help reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar according to Oregon State University. Information about pulses from the University of Michigan shows that they are low in sodium and fat and according to CLIMA diets low in fat may reduce the risk of coronary and cardiovascular disease.
Since the production of chick peas has been growing rapidly, small volumes of low quality chick peas are being used for livestock feed. Nutritional analysis indicates that chick peas make an excellent feed for many types of livestock.
According to the University of Manitoba, chick peas can also help people with diabetes control their blood glucose levels. As a result of their low glycemic index of 55 or less, they have less of an effect on blood glucose than other foods containing carbohydrates, which can help in the management of type-2 diabetes. Chick peas can also help to reduce blood lipids that may help some serious complications of diabetes.
Flour made from chick peas is gluten free and can benefit people with celiac disease. According to Colorado State University, legumes such as chick peas can also be used in vegetarian diets due to their good source of iron and protein.
Research conducted by the University of Saskatchewan studied the possible link between diets high in fibre and the lowered risk of colon cancer. Diets high in fibre can also have a positive effect on weight loss because they deliver more bulk and less energy. Furthermore, scientists at the University of Queensland discovered a compound in legumes, which includes chick peas, which may have the potential to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours.
Chick peas are an excellent source of the B vitamin folate which is an essential nutrient. In addition, folate consumption during pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and according to the USDA's Agriculture Research Service may have positive effects on heart disease and the nervous system. Increasing folate in your diet can also lower the chances of developing colon and cervical cancer, according to researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Alabama.
Products and Uses
Chick peas are used mainly for human consumption. The desi type seed must be dehulled and can be used whole, split, or milled. Chick peas are also used as a vegetable; the kabuli type is used mainly in salads and vegetable mixes, while the desi type may be milled into flour. They are also used in preparing a wide variety of snack foods, soups, sweets, and condiments. In India and nearby countries, desi chick peas are used whole, shelled and split to make dhal or ground to produce a fine flour called besan, which is used to make roti or chapatti, as well as sweets and snacks. In the Middle East, chick peas are consumed in the form of a dish known as hummus, which is produced from mashed chick peas mixed with oil and spices.
Source: Forecast based on August-July crop year, Market Analysis Division, Strategic Policy Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, September 20, 2006.
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