31 Oct 2012

Bananas predicted to replace potatoes as staple

10:54 pm on 31 October 2012

Bananas could become a critical source of food for millions of people as a result of global warming, researchers working for the United Nations say.

The group of experts looked at the projected effects of climate change on 22 of the world's most important agricultural commodities, the BBC reports.

The report's authors 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. As a result in some countries, bananas might make a suitable alternative.

The report says that other crop substitutions could include cassava for wheat in South Asia and the little known cowpea plant - sometimes called the 'poor man's meat' - could supplant soybeans in Africa.

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

But according to the 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.