London: Bananas could soon become a critical food source for millions of people and replace potatoes as the staple diet due to climate change, a new study has claimed.
    
Researchers from the the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) partnership said that while bananas may replace potatoes in some developing countries, cassava and other little known cowpea plant could play increasingly important roles as temperatures rise.
    
People will have to adapt to new and varied menus as traditional crops struggle say the authors, the BBC reported.
    
A group of experts in the field, responding to a request from the United Nations' committee on world food security, 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 in abundance in cooler climates, could also suffer as temperatures increase and weather becomes more volatile.
    
Researchers 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.
    
Researcher Dr Philip Thornton said that while bananas also have limiting factors, they may be a good substitute for potatoes in certain locations
    
"It's not necessarily a silver bullet but there may be places where as temperatures increase, bananas might be one option that small holders could start to look at," he said.
    
The report describes wheat as the world's most important plant derived protein and calories source.
    
However, researchers said wheat will face a difficult future in the developing world where higher prices for cotton, maize and soybeans have pushed wheat to marginal land, making it more vulnerable to stresses induced by climate change.

(Agencies)

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