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Staple food crops and a changing climate…

October 31, 2012

Here’s an interesting article from the BBC about how the adaptability and climatic suitability of staple food crops will play an increasing role in the future as climate patterns change. Maize, rice, and wheat may see a decrease in cultivation and consumption as more adaptable crops such as banana, cassava, and cowpea become more important.

(From the BBC)

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.

Read full article Bananas could replace potatoes in warming world, at BBC news…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2012 10:08:25 pm

    Great post. Savoury bananas (plantains) are good eating with meat and so on. I ate them in Costa Rica when I briefly worked there. It’s hard to imagine them being grown here but if they are, I’ll buy them.

    I’m gestating a piece about food security for my own blog, and if I get that written I’ll include a link to your post here.

  2. October 31, 2012 10:08:25 pm

    WOOT! We have 2 bananas in our glasshouse…I might be able to plant them out in the future. Seriously though, we need to be relying more on perenial plants for our future and warmer tropical herbs and annuals than established regimes of grain cropping and ground tubers. I am NOT looking forwards to the day when potatoes won’t be my staple food :(. I am a spud addict and just about every meal figures this delicious tuber in some form. I guess I will just have to substitute warmer climate roots but it won’t be the same :(.


  1. Climate and food | Science on the Land

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