FEWS Guatemala Food Security Update, Nov 2008 - Heavy storms reduce cro production in north

- Heavy rainfall associated with Tropical Depression 16 in the northern departments of the country caused severe damage to crops and infrastructure, affecting the zone's food security. The Government of Guatemala has decreed State of Calamity in the affected areas, and intends to allocate US$ 6.6 million of the national budget to face this emergency and has also requested international assistance of a similar amount. The response will include medical supplies as well as seeds and other inputs to rehabilitate agricultural production.

- The season of high demand for unskilled labor continues in November with the start of the harvest of sugar cane and the coffee cutting activities. The demand is expected to be within normal ranges and improve food access for the poorest households.

- The season of cold fronts and frosts has begun, which could damage crops in vulnerable areas if the temperatures fall below 4=B0 C in the highlands in the west of the country.

- Prices are at the top of the historical values but have shown a tendency to stabilize, and even decline, influenced by the reduction of international commodity prices. If seasonal agricultural activities do not resume in the northern areas of the country recently affected by excessive rains, the prices of staple cereals could increase in the early months of 2009, as supply would be lower than normal.