Scientists have revealed that bananas could be one of the many victims of climate change.
A study at the University of Exeter looked at the effects of climate change when it comes to food production, specifically, dessert bananas.
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Currently, the most popular dessert banana belongs to the Cavendish cultivars, with over 100 millions of tonnes being produced every year around the world. In Britain alone, 5 million bananas are purchased every year. The country accounts for 7% of the global export market in bananas.
Researchers looked at the exports of the 27 countries, who provide 86% of the worlds banana supply. They found that since 1961 crop yields have steadily increased.
However, by 2050 these robust yields could have severely diminished because of adverse conditions triggered by climate change, they warn.
“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 Dan Bebber, a lecturer in microbial ecology at the Department of Biosciences at the University of Exeter. “There will be winners and losers in the coming years, and our study may stimulate vulnerable countries to prepare through investment in technologies like irrigation.”
By calculating the annual temperatures and rainfall conditions in each country and while the temperature changes in the past 60 years have improved yields, in the next 30 years these effects can slow down or in some cases even reverse.
Countries like Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest producer of bananas, and Colombia, a major exporter, may incur the biggest losses. Conversely, banana crops in Africa, Ecuador and Honduras are likely to benefit the most from future temperature changes.
Going forward, it is imperative that "we invest in preparing tropical agriculture for future climate change,” said Bebber.
“An open exchange of ideas is going to be critical going forward,” said Varun Varma, Research Fellow at the University of Exeter. “We believe practical solutions already exist, but these are scattered across banana producing countries.”