Nutritional diversity is a key element of food security1,2,3. However, research on the effects of climate change on food security has, thus far, focused on the main food grains4,5,6,7,8, while the responses of other crops, particularly those that play an important role in the developing world, are poorly understood. Bananas are a staple food and a major export commodity for many tropical nations9. Here, we show that for 27 countries—accounting for 86% of global dessert banana production—a changing climate since 1961 has increased annual yields by an average of 1.37 t ha−1. Past gains have been largely ubiquitous across the countries assessed and African producers will continue to see yield increases in the future. However, global yield gains could be dampened or disappear, reducing to 0.59 t ha−1 and 0.19 t ha−1 by 2050 under the climate scenarios for Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5, respectively, driven by declining yields in the largest producers and exporters. By quantifying climate-driven and technology-driven influences on yield, we also identify countries at risk from climate change and those capable of mitigating its effects or capitalizing on its benefits.
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The study was funded by Global Food Security grant no. BB/N020847/1 and EC Horizon 2020 project ID 727624. The funders had no role in the study design or execution. The authors thank F. Savory for feedback on the manuscript. Base maps were created using administrative region polygons from GADM v.2.8 (https://gadm.org/).
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information: Nature Climate Change thanks Geoffrey Sabiiti and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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