Climate change impacts on banana yields around the world


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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Climate–yield model parameter estimates for banana cultivation.
Fig. 2: Effects of past and future climate change on banana yields.
Fig. 3: Effect of changes in climate and cultivation efficiency (technology) on banana yields (1961 to 2016).
Fig. 4: Future climate-risk assessment for major banana-producing countries (by 2050).

Data availability

All data used are publicly available and open access. All banana production data sources are listed in Supplementary Table 1. All climatic and topographic data sources are listed in the Methods.


  1. 1.

    Wheeler, T. & Braun, J. Climate change impacts on global food security. Science 341, 508–513 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Springmann, M. et al. Global and regional health effects of future food production under climate change: a modelling study. Lancet 387, 1937–1946 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Hwalla, N., Labban, S. E. & Bahn, R. A. Nutrition security is an integral component of food security. Front. Life Sci. 9, 167–172 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Welch, J. R. et al. Rice yields in tropical/subtropical Asia exhibit large but opposing sensitivities to minimum and maximum temperatures. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 14562–14567 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Knox, J., Hess, T., Daccache, A. & Wheeler, T. Climate change impacts on crop productivity in Africa and South Asia. Environ. Res. Lett. 7, 034032 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Challinor, A. J. et al. A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation. Nat. Clim. Change 4, 287–291 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Lobell, D. B. & Gourdji, S. M. The influence of climate change on global crop productivity. Plant Physiol. 160, 1686–1697 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Rosenzweig, C. et al. Assessing agricultural risks of climate change in the 21st century in a global gridded crop model intercomparison. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 3268–3273 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Heslop-Harrison, J. S. & Schwarzacher, T. Domestication, genomics and the future for banana. Ann. Bot. 100, 1073–1084 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Calberto, G., Staver, C. & Siles, P. in Climate Change and Food Systems: Global Assessments and Implications for Food Security and Trade (ed. Albehri, A.) Ch. 9 (FAO, 2015).

  11. 11.

    Vuylsteke, D., Ortiz, R. & Ferris, S. Genetic and agronomic improvement for sustainable production of plantain and banana in sub-Saharan Africa. Afr. Crop Sci. J. 1, 1–8 (1993).

  12. 12.

    Turner, D. W., Fortescue, J. A. & Thomas, D. S. Environmental physiology of the bananas (Musa spp.). Braz. J. Plant Physiol. 19, 463–484 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    DataBank (World Bank, accessed 1 September 2018);

  14. 14.

    Turner, D. & Lahav, E. The growth of banana plants in relation to temperature. Aust. J. Plant Physiol. 10, 43–53 (1983).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Kallarackal, J., Milburn, J. & Baker, D. Water relations of the banana. III. Effects of controlled water stress on water potential, transpiration, photosynthesis and leaf growth. Aust. J. Plant Physiol. 17, 79–90 (1990).

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Eckstein, K. & Robinson, J. C. Physiological responses of banana (Musa AAA; Cavendish sub-group) in the subtropics. II. Influence of climatic conditions on seasonal and diurnal variations in gas exchange of banana leaves. J. Hortic. Sci. 70, 157–167 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Thomas, D. S., Turner, D. W. & Eamus, D. Independent effects of the environment on the leaf gas exchange of three banana (Musa sp.) cultivars of different genomic constitution. Sci. Hortic. 75, 41–57 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    van Asten, P. J. A., Fermont, A. M. & Taulya, G. Drought is a major yield loss factor for rainfed East African highland banana. Agric. Water Manag. 98, 541–552 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Eckstein, K. & Robinson, J. C. Physiological responses of banana (Musa) AAA; Cavendish sub-group) in the subtropics. I. Influence of internal plant factors on gas exchange of banana leaves. J. Hortic. Sci. 70, 147–156 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Fischer, G. et al. Global Agro-Ecological Zones (GAEZ v3.0) (IIASA and FAO, 2012).

  21. 21.

    FAOSTAT (FAO, accessed 10 February 2018);

  22. 22.

    Yan, W. & Hunt, L. A. An equation for modelling the temperature response of plants using only the cardinal temperatures. Ann. Bot. 84, 607–614 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Ramirez, J., Jarvis, A., Van den Bergh, I., Staver, C. & Turner, D. in Crop Adaptation to Climate Change (eds Yadav, S. S. et al.) 426–438 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).

  24. 24.

    Van den Bergh, I. et al. Climate change in the subtropics: the impacts of projected averages and variability on banana productivity. Acta Hortic. (2012).

  25. 25.

    IPCC Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report (eds Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R. K. & Meyer L. A.) (IPCC, 2014).

  26. 26.

    Ordonez, N. et al. Worse comes to worst: bananas and panama disease—when plant and pathogen clones meet. PLoS Pathog. 11, e1005197 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Ploetz, R. C., Kema, G. H. J. & Ma, L.-J. Impact of diseases on export and smallholder production of banana. Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. 53, 269–288 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Bebber, D. P. Range-expanding pests and pathogens in a warming world. Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. 53, 335–356 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Machovina, B. & Feeley, K. J. Climate change driven shifts in the extent and location of areas suitable for export banana production. Ecol. Econ. 95, 83–95 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Sabiiti, G. et al. in Limits to Climate Change Adaptation (eds Leal Filho, W. & Nalau, J.) 175–190 (Springer International, 2018).

  31. 31.

    Foley, J. A. et al. Global consequences of land use. Science 309, 570–574 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Harris, I., Jones, P. D., Osborn, T. J. & Lister, D. H. Updated high-resolution grids of monthly climatic observations—the CRU TS3.10 Dataset. Int. J. Climatol. 34, 623–642 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    High-resolution Gridded Datasets (CRU, accessed 1 September 2018);

  34. 34.

    You, L. et al. Spatial Production Allocation Model (SPAM) 2005 v3.2 (MapSPAM, 2018);

  35. 35.

    Hijmans, R. J., Cameron, S. E., Parra, J. L., Jones, P. G. & Jarvis, A. Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. Int. J. Climatol. 25, 1965–1978 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    CMIP5 5-minutes (WorldClim—Global Climate Data, accessed 1 September 2018);

  37. 37.

    Fick, S. E. & Hijmans, R. J. WorldClim 2: new 1-km spatial resolution climate surfaces for global land areas. Int. J. Climatol. 37, 4302–4315 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    WorldClim Version2 (WorldClim—Global Climate Data, accessed 1 September 2018);

  39. 39.

    Yin, X., Kropff, M. J., McLaren, G. & Visperas, R. M. A nonlinear model for crop development as a function of temperature. Agric. Meteorol. 77, 1–16 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Archontoulis, S. V. & Miguez, F. E. Nonlinear regression models and applications in agricultural research. Agron. J. 107, 786–798 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


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 (

Author information




D.B. designed the study. V.V. collated and analysed the data in discussion with D.B. V.V. wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Daniel P. Bebber.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

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.

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Tables 1–6, Supplementary Figs. 1–30 and Supplementary Appendix/Supplementary Appendix Figs. 1–3.

Reporting Summary

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Varma, V., Bebber, D.P. Climate change impacts on banana yields around the world. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 752–757 (2019).

Download citation

Further reading


Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing