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Bananas could replace staple foods in warming world

BBC World Service-Climate change could lead to bananas becoming a critical food source for millions of people, a new report says.

Researchers from the CGIAR agricultural partnership say the fruit might replace potatoes in some developing countries.

Cassava and the little known cowpea plant could play increasingly important roles in agriculture as temperatures rise.

People will have to adapt to new and varied menus as traditional crops struggle say the authors.

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.

They predict that the world’s three biggest crops in terms of calories provided – maize, rice and wheat – will decrease in many developing countries.

They suggest that the potato, which grows best in cooler climates, could also suffer as temperatures increase and weather becomes more volatile.

The authors argue that these changes “could provide an opening for cultivating certain varieties of bananas” at higher altitudes, even in those places that currently grow potatoes.

Dr Philip Thornton is one of those behind the report. He told BBC News that while bananas also have limiting factors, they may be a good substitute for potatoes in certain locations

“It’s not necessarily a silver bullet but there may be places where as temperatures increase, bananas might be one option that small holders could start to look at.”

The report describes wheat as the world’s most important plant derived protein and calories source.

But according to this research, wheat will face a difficult future in the developing world where higher prices for cotton, maize and soybeans have pushed wheat to marginal land, making it more vulnerable to stresses induced by climate change.

Source: BBC World Service



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