Bananas and Climate Change

Climate change cannot be denied anymore (although some silly scientists and politicians still do) and it will have a profound effect on bananas. Grown throughout the tropics and subtropics, bananas are a key source of food, nutrition and income for millions of rural and urban households.

They are a staple crop in many countries. In some countries in central Africa, people consume up to 11 bananas per day and in Uganda, the local word for bananas – matooke – means food.

So, what will happen if temperatures keep rising, rainfall will become increasingly erratic and the levels of CO2 keep accelerating at the same pace as it does now?
Especially in the tropical regions, yields of certain crops will decline, but the banana may be lucky. Research shows that by 2070 land area suitable for bananas will increase by 50%. Increasing annual temperatures will make conditions more favourable for banana production in the subtropics and in tropical highlands[1].

So with higher temperatures bananas could be grown in more areas. But these higher temperatures mean an increase in water demand, which is projected to increase by 12-15%. And higher temperatures may also threaten those crops, such as coffee, that are often grown with bananas. Farmers who grow banana as a secondary crop, may abandon banana when climate change makes coffee cultivation less viable.

Which suggests that all is not well for the banana.

[1] Climate Change and Food Systems: Global assessments and implications for food security and trade (Edited by Aziz Elbehri) - 2015. Downloadable here.

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