Guatemala + 3 more

CENTRAL AMERICA Executive Brief, January 7, 2011

Situation Report
Originally published
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Regional food security context

- In 2009 drought led to below- average production in the dry corridor of eastern Guatemala, western and southern Honduras, and central Nicaragua.

- In Guatemala, 2010 heavy rains during the primera season (May- September) damaged crops and infrastructure. Damage to infrastructure due to extreme weather events temporarily hindered access to remote markets and increased transportation costs, leading to above- average food prices. The areas along both coastlines were the most affected, as were the highlands, which are prone to landslides. The 2010 postrera season was then affected by a drought, resulting in speculation on bean markets. The two failed seasons have also diminished demand for agricultural labor particularly for cash crops (coffee, cardamom, sugar cane, etc.), which is the main, often exclusive, source of income for the very poor and poor.

- Red beans in Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua and black beans in Guatemala are the most important staple, after maize, for the very poor and poor in the region. It is common for these households to purchase up to 50 percent of their food, and prices for beans, particularly red beans, were significantly above average throughout the region in December, this was mainly because the loses during 2010 due to climate events. Both the Honduran and El Salvador governments have intervened, with some success, to lower red bean prices for domestic consumers. However, the artificially low prices have encouraged exports to El Salvador, thus raising concerns about red bean availability in Honduras and Nicaragua later in the year. In Guatemala, prices of black beans are currently falling as bean harvests that began in November/December continue and finalize in February/March.

- A La Niña phenomenon, which is correlated with above- average rainfall in Central America, is forecast to continue through at least April 2011. As a result, the start of season in April- June is likely to be irregular, leading to below-average germination and above- average production costs due to re- sowing.

- Colorado State's December 2010 long- range forecast for the June- November 2011 Atlantic hurricane season projects another active season with 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes, compared with the 1950- 2000 averages of 9.6, 5.6, and 2.3, respectively.