Bananas are likely to thrive

Although some may dispute the facts, most of us know that the climate is changing. Temperatures rise, graphs seem to project that sea levels could be increasing by as much as 0.5 meters by the end of this century. In the meantime the weather is getting more and more unpredictable, tropical cyclones are creating more havoc and rain may fall in abundance or not at all.

All these changes may influence the staple foods of the world in a way we cannot have envisioned before: potatoes, which grow best in cooler climates, may be in serious trouble if temperatures increase or fertile lands are inundated each growing season.
Responding to a request from the United Nations' committee on world food security, a group of experts in the field looked at the projected effects of climate change on 22 of the world's most important agricultural commodities. In their report[1] they predict that the world's three biggest crops in terms of calories provided - maize, rice and wheat - will decrease in many developing countries.

The authors argue that warmer winters caused by climate change could provide an opening for cultivating certain varieties of bananas in higher altitudes that soon may get much warmer—possibly even those places that currently grow potatoes. Warmer weather may increase banana productivity by shortening the time between planting and harvest.

Philip Thornton is one of the scientists behind the report and said that while bananas and plantains also have limiting factors, they may be a good substitute for potatoes in certain locations. Climate change may affect banana cultivation in certain areas, but its range is expected to adjust, not shrink.

[1] Thornton: Recalibrating Food Production in the Developing World: Global Warming Will Change More Than Just the Climate in Policy Brief – 2012 Text here.

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