Rising banana prices: Climate change and diseases put popular fruit at risk

Rising banana prices: Climate change and diseases put popular fruit at risk

Pascal Liu, a senior economist at the World Banana Forum, expressed his concern at the opening of the forum in Rome. The forum brings together major players in the banana export market to discuss the future of bananas. Bananas are the most exported fresh fruit in the world, with 19.1 million tons exported in 2022 at an estimated economic value of $10 billion per year. They are also a vital source of income for rural households in developing countries and a staple food for a large part of the world population.

Liu highlighted the growing threats posed by global warming and diseases to the banana industry. One of the most concerning diseases is Fusarium Wilt TR4, a fungal infection that has spread from Australia and Asia to Africa and South America. Once a plantation is infected, all banana trees are killed, posing a serious threat to the Cavendish variety, which is the most popular variety of bananas in the world.

Professor Rony Swennen of the Laboratory for Tropical Plant Breeding at KU Leuven, an expert in banana cultivation, disputed the notion that industrial plantations are threatened by climate change. He emphasized that while bananas are not facing extinction, the costs of banana production are likely to increase due to climate change effects on temperature, humidity, and precipitation.

Climate change will lead to higher costs for banana production, as more irrigation may be required during drought periods and precipitation changes can lead to soil erosion. These increased costs, combined with already low profit margins, may impact the price of bananas in stores. If banana supply decreases due to climate change, prices are likely to rise in the future.

Overall, the banana industry is facing significant challenges from global warming and diseases such as Fusarium Wilt TR4. While bananas are not at immediate risk of extinction, the industry may need to adapt to the changing climate and rising production costs in order to ensure the sustainability of banana production and supply.

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