Report: Climate change affects world crops

Oct. 31, 2012 at 7:17 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Bananas could replace potatoes in a warming world as a critical food source for millions of people, a report prepared for the United Nations says.

Crops from the banana family might replace potatoes in some developing countries, the report by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research prepared at the request of the U.N. committee on world food security said.

The committee has been examining the projected effects of climate change on 22 of the world's most important agricultural commodities.

The world's three biggest -- corn, rice and wheat -- will decrease in many developing countries, they predict, and the potato, which grows best in cooler climates, could also be affected by warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns.

The CGIAR report said such changes "could provide an opening for cultivating certain varieties of bananas" at higher altitudes, even in those places that currently grow potatoes.

While bananas and their cousin plantains have some limiting factors, they may be a good substitute for potatoes in certain locations, one of the report authors said.

"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," Philip Thornton, an agricultural scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute, told the BBC.

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