India – the biggest producer and consumer of bananas – is expected to be hit by climate change © Getty Images/iStockphoto
India – the biggest producer and consumer of bananas – is expected to be hit by climate change © Getty Images/iStockphoto

10 countries facing 'significant decline' in banana crop yields

6 September 2019

Ten banana-growing countries are predicted to see a “significant decline” in crop yields, according to a report.

The study, by the University of Exeter, found 27 countries – accounting for 86% of dessert banana production – have on average seen increased crop yields since 1961.

But these gains could be “significantly reduced, or disappear completely, by 2050 if climate change continues at its expected rate”.

The report said 10 countries, including India – the largest producer and consumer of bananas – and Brazil – the fourth largest producer, are expected to see “a significant decline in crop yields”.

The 10 countries include India, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and the Philippines. 

The research, on the recent and future impact of climate change on banana producers and exporters, said some countries, including Ecuador (the largest exporter), Honduras and a number of African countries, may see “an overall benefit in crop yields”.

Dr Dan Bebber, senior lecturer in biosciences, who led the study, said: “We’re very concerned about the impact of diseases like Fusarium Wilt on bananas, but the impacts of climate change have been largely ignored. 

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

“It is imperative that we invest in preparing tropical agriculture for future climate change.”

Bananas are a key crop for many farmers and make up a large part of international trade for some producing countries. In Costa Rica, it is the second largest agricultural export commodity, said the report.

More than 5bn bananas are purchased each year in Britain, and the UK accounts for 7% of the global export market, said the university.

Dr Varun Varma, research fellow and an author of the study, said: “An open exchange of ideas is going to be critical going forward. 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.”

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