Climate change could create global banana shortage

Warmers temperatures have boosted banana production in recent decades, but these gains could be completely wiped out by 2050 if climate change continues at its expected rate.


That is according to a new study by the University of Exeter, which found that 27 countries, accounting for 86% of global dessert banana production, have seen an increased crop yield since 1961.

However, the researchers predict that these improvements could be significantly reduced or disappear completely as a result of rising temperatures and changing rainfall.

A total of 10 countries – including the world’s largest banana producer and consumer, India – are forecast to experience a significant decline in crop yield by midway of this century.

"We’re very concerned about the impact of diseases like Fusarium Wilt on bananas, but the impacts of climate change have been largely ignored," said lead researcher, Dr Dan Bebber.

"There will be winners and losers in coming years, and our study may stimulate vulnerable countries to prepare through investment in technologies like irrigation."

Bananas are crucial for millions of people across the world, and more than five billion are purchased in Britain every year, with the UK accounting for 7% of the global export market.

The researchers said that this trade is crucial for certain economies. Bananas and their derived products constitute the second-largest agricultural export commodity of Ecuador and Costa Rica.

After using sophisticated modelling techniques, the study found that India, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and the Philippines, are set to at least experience a negative trend in banana yields.

Ecuador, Honduras, and a number of African countries may see an overall boost to production, but any positive effects of climate change on average global banana yields are likely to be significantly lessened.

“An open exchange of ideas is going to be critical going forward,” said study co-author, Dr Varun Varma.

“We believe practical solutions already exist, but these are scattered across banana-producing countries. This knowledge exchange needs to start now to counteract predicted yield losses due to climate change.”


Image credit: ©iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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