Climate change may reduce banana yield in India


Continued global warming may adversely affect banana yield in India by 2050. With 29% of the world’s production, India is the world’s biggest producer of banana. But the decline in yield can be mitigated by strong, technology-driven measures.

Global warming in the last about 60 years had helped increase banana yield at annual rate of 0.024 tonnes per hectare translating to an average increase of 1.37 tonnes per hectare in 27 countries since the 1960s. But with continued warming, the yield gains could slow down or even reverse in some countries leading to a drop in yields — 0.59-0.19 tonnes per hectare — by 2050, a study published in Nature Climate Change finds.

India, which is the world’s largest producer and consumer of banana, along with nine other countries such as Brazil will see a reduction in the yield, the University of Exeter study finds.

At the same time, certain other countries — Ecuador and Honduras, and many in Africa — will witness an overall increase in crop yields.

“India could experience a major reversal with predicted negative effects of future climate change compared to positive effects in the past,” the authors write. But the decline in production due to climate change in the case of India may be mitigated by strong, technology-driven measures to increase the yield.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with 29 million tonnes produced per year between 2010 and 2017, India is the world’s number one producer of banana. Over 29% of the world’s banana production is in India. The average yield of banana in India is around 60 tonnes per hectare, according to the FAO. During the same period (2010 and 2017), China, which is second largest producer globally, produced about one-third of India — 11 million tonnes per year.

The authors caution that the study does not take into account agro-economic considerations such as cultivation infrastructure, access to market to name a few which are taken into account to arrive at production data. Similarly, the extent of irrigation in use has not been accounted for in the analysis.

Published in The Hindu on September 3, 2019