Hummus and falafel or delicious soups, pastes, spreads and chips: chickpeas are conquering the menu.
But the legumes are mostly imported.
So far, they have been a niche product in German agriculture.
Trebbin / Halle (dpa) - On Thomas Gäbert's field in Trebbin, Brandenburg, the seeds for chickpeas are in the ground for the second year in a row.
The ranks have just been drawn.
The plants sprout knee-high from the ground.
“The harvest will soon be due,” says Gäbert.
In the previous year, he was able to harvest 20 to 25 tons per hectare from the arable area expanded to almost 17 hectares.
“That was a start,” he emphasizes.
The chairman of an agricultural cooperative still sees the project as an experiment.
Because chickpeas should also pay off.
In total, around 2900 hectares of arable land are cultivated in the company.
The chickpea is still a niche product
The chickpea is a niche product in Germany. Only a small number of farmers are concerned with the fruit. According to the Federal Statistical Office, no information is available yet due to the small amount harvested. However, since 2019 imports have increased by almost 7,000 tons to 19,300 tons (2020). The largest amount came from Turkey with 7000 tons. Consumer demand for local chickpeas is growing.
In view of the internationalization of the kitchen and more interest in vegetarian and vegan nutrition, the chickpea has arrived on the plates.
"I give her great opportunities," says Urte Grauwinkel.
The scientist from Halle deals with the food of the future.
"The young generation is developing a new awareness of moving away from meat, or at least less of it, towards new, vegan foods," says the lecturer.
Concern for the climate plays a major role in this.
Great potential for nutrition
The chickpeas have great potential for nutrition, says Grauwinkel. The high protein content is a good protein substitute for animal protein. The expert hopes that in the future chickpeas will be processed even more in large kitchens that also offer food for children. By cultivating it at home, long transport routes could be avoided and the environment protected.
Organic farmer Jonas Schulze Niehoff from the Magdeburg Börde is one of the pioneers in the cultivation of chickpeas in Germany.
He relies on regionality in marketing; they are sold in unpackaged shops.
“The idea for the extension was born at home at the dining table.
The conversation was about vegan nutrition, ”says the 40-year-old.
The question arose, how do you actually grow chickpeas?
He took action in 2018 and set up a test area of just under one hectare in his company.
Today, three years later, there are already 30 hectares.
Almost exclusively imported goods
According to the agricultural industry, there are numerous processors nationwide, but so far they have almost exclusively used imported goods. Jörn Gutowski from the Berlin company zeevi, which produces kofu - tofu made from chickpeas instead of soy - is pleased that he can now use organic quality chickpeas from Saxony-Anhalt. “Customers always ask,” he says.
Simon Rogowski, one of the two managing directors of Ministry of Cultures in Berlin, is convinced after his first experiences with chickpeas from Germany: “The quality is better than that of imported goods”.
The company produces tempeh, a fermented food originally from Indonesia.
It's mostly made from soybeans, but other beans, grains, and chickpeas can also be used for it.
Rogowski is convinced that in future the price of local chickpeas will develop after the test phase in such a way that in the end the product will be attractive for farmers, as well as processors and customers.
Himalaya is the area of origin
"Chickpeas originally come from the Himalayas," says Moritz Reckling, scientist at the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Müncheberg near Berlin.
Among other things, it is investigating which crops and plant varieties are suitable for indigenous fields and agriculture in view of climate change.
“The chickpea was there before,” says farmer Schulze Niehoff.
Recipes can be found in old German cookbooks from 1920/30.
The fruit was grown primarily in southern Germany, he says.
Scientist Reckling, however, is dampening hopes that cultures will thrive in Germany in the future that need almost no water.
"Lemons are not going to grow here," he said.
The chickpea - a legume - can cope well with drought.
They are sown in May and can be harvested in September.
Attempts since last year
In the Agricultural Technology Center Augustenberg, Rheinstetten-Forchheim branch, experiments with chickpeas have been running since last year.
"Since it is hardly available in Germany, seeds of 22 varieties were obtained from abroad," says Carola Blessing, who is responsible for crop production.
The aim of the protein initiative of the state of Baden-Württemberg is to promote the cultivation of legumes and support the regional value chain.
The Brandenburg farmer Gäbert is still experimenting with his chickpeas.
The harvest is dried on his farm.
Fresh peas are boiled and canned for further processing.
They are sold in the farm shop.
Gäbert is a fan of the arable crop.
“I eat hummus every day and I can't get enough of it,” he says.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210618-99-42968 / 2
Ministry of Cultures
Contact person project Zukunftsspeisen - Superfood from Saxony-Anhalt
Farmer Jonas Schulze Niehoff