Food security in Central America is expected to deteriorate through the peak of the lean season in August/September as access to food becomes limited by rising staple food prices and atypically low labor demand resulting from the economic impacts of COVID-19. Poor households in the Altiplano in Guatemala, the Dry Corridor and hurricane-affected areas of both Guatemala and Honduras, coffee-producing areas in western El Salvador, and in northwestern Nicaragua will likely experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until September. Although primera harvests in September, postrera harvests in November/December, and a seasonal increase in labor demand will reduce the food insecure population through January 2022, parts of southern Honduras, central Guatemala, and western El Salvador are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Primera harvests in rainfall-deficit areas in Honduras are expected to be below-average among smallholder farmers, reducing the duration of their food stocks. Average harvests are likely in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua and both maize and bean crops are developing well. For the postrera season, long-term climate forecasts currently indicate an elevated likelihood of above-average rainfall in some areas, which may cause localized losses of beans due to this crop’s moisture sensitivity.
Markets are operating normally and remain well supplied in Central America. White maize prices increased in the region between 5 and 35 percent from May to June, driven by seasonal prices increases, high costs for agricultural inputs and transportation, and some speculation related to harvest shortfalls in Honduras. Bean and rice prices remained stable thanks to imports and national reserves. These price increases will likely continue to constrain household purchasing power and overall economic recovery throughout 2021, despite of the lack of new COVID-19-related restrictions. Meanwhile, confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise and impede economic recovery, given slow vaccination campaigns.
In Haiti, the socio-political environment remains calm but uncertain following the assassination of the president on July 7. The fragile security situation, supply disruptions, fuel scarcity, and increase in the cost of transportation and staple foods are contributing to ongoing food insecurity and areas where maize, beans, and other seasonal crop harvests are below-average as well as areas controlled by armed gangs in and around Port-au-Prince are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Revisions to the food security outlook to incorporate the impacts of the recent earthquake and tropical storms Fred and Grace will be available in August/September.