El Salvador + 2 more

El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua: Key Message Update - Elevated staple food prices buck seasonal trends, limit food security gains, November 2021

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Key Messages:

Food availability and access are expected to continue improving for most poor households across the region due to seasonal trends following the primera harvest. However, above-average prices for food, utilities, and transportation are constraining household purchasing power, resulting in widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May 2022. Parts of the Dry Corridor and eastern Honduras are expected to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May 2022 due to smallholder farmers’ primera crop losses and resulting reductions in food stocks, as well as reductions in the coffee harvest and associated income.

Despite a slight seasonal decrease in staple food prices, prices remain higher than both last year and the five-year average. White maize wholesale prices are up 70.6, 42.3, and 29.8 percent over last year in the Managua, Tegucigalpa, and San Salvador markets, respectively. Field reports indicate these atypically high prices are due in part to smaller flows and lower supply at markets, suggesting the primera harvest was more negatively affected by dry conditions than initially expected. Other contributing factors include increased prices of fertilizers and fuels and overall inflation.

Selling prices for coffee producers have risen approximately 70 percent since last year; however, these improvements are likely to be offset by an anticipated 12 percent decrease in overall coffee production in Honduras, reducing any potential benefits to producers. Production in Honduras has been constrained due to weather impacts and a higher-than-normal incidence of coffee rust, as well as a tight labor market as laborers demand higher wages. Difficulties in finding laborers to harvest the coffee cherries has been reported in both Honduras and Nicaragua. Many laborers there have chosen to travel instead to Costa Rica, which offers higher pay and better conditions.

Continued below-average rainfall throughout the region in October and November will likely cause localized losses of postrera crops, particularly in the Dry Corridor of Honduras and Nicaragua. For the postrera tardia/apante season, average rainfall and national harvests are expected; however, above-average rainfall forecast in Nicaragua is likely to negatively affect bean crops, which tend to be moisture-sensitive.