The banana boom enabled by warmer temperatures may be coming to an end | Credit: David Bebber
Largest banana-producing nations set to suffer ‘significant declines’ in yields as a result of a warming world
Bananas could be in short supply in a warmer world according to a new study released today by the University of Exeter, which suggests some of the world’s largest banana exporters could see “significant declines” in yields.
Although higher temperatures have coincided with a boost in banana yields since the 1960s, the researchers suggest continued warming and changing rainfall patterns now pose a serious threat to future crops.
Some 27 countries – accounting for 86 per cent of global banana production – have seen yields increase since 1961, but these gains could be eradicated completely as climate change has an increased impact on growing conditions.
Ten countries, including the world’s largest banana producer, India, are set to see a “significant decline” in crop yields, the report suggests. It adds that higher projected yields in smaller nations such as Honduras will struggle to offset the losses in the world’s largest markets.
The study’s lead author Dr Dan Bebber said the impacts of climate change on bananas have been largely ignored to date. “It is imperative that we invest in preparing tropical agriculture for future climate change,” he said. “There will be winners and losers in coming years, and our study may stimulate vulnerable countries to prepare through investment in technologies like irrigation.”
Yet many in the banana industry may be more concerned about Fusarium Wilt, the rampant fungus that kills banana plants which has ravaged plantations in Asia, and this month was detected for the first time in South America.
The fungus is killing the Cavendish banana plants, which accounts for just under half of global production. Because Cavendish banana plants reproduce asexually, there is no resistance to the disease, and many banana experts are concerned the fungus could all but wipe out the species. With no immediately obvious banana for growers to switch to, some fear the fungus could kill the common banana before climate change is able to.