GIEWS Country Brief: Guatemala 05-November-2019

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  • Maize production in 2019 anticipated at below‑average level due to dry weather conditions

  • Cereal import requirements forecast to increase in 2019/20 marketing year

  • Prices of maize started to seasonally decline in August

Maize production in 2019 anticipated at below‑average level due to dry weather conditions

Harvesting of the 2019 main maize crop is ongoing in the main producing department of Petén. Production is expected at a below‑average level, mainly driven by dry weather conditions, coupled with high temperatures that exacerbated the process of evaporation, in the June‑August period that corresponds to the critical flowering and grain‑filling stages. Rainfall amounts received during this period were well below the long term average (1989‑2018). Differently from last year, when dry weather conditions affected crops almost exclusively in subsistence farming areas, the reduced precipitation in 2019 had a negative impact on production at the national level. The major producing northern departments of Petén, Alta Verapaz and Quiché, production of which contributes to about 40 percent of the main season output, received cumulative precipitation that were between 20 and 30 percent below the average.

The 2019 minor season maize crop, that accounts for about 20 percent of the annual production and will be harvested in December, is at the development stage in southern and eastern producing areas. Increased rainfall amounts since mid‑September have been beneficial for crop development. Overall, the aggregate maize production in 2019 is anticipated at a below‑average level of 1.7 million tonnes.

Cereal import requirements forecast to remain above average in 2019/20 marketing year

Cereal import requirements in the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June) are forecast to remain at an above‑average level of 2.06 million tonnes, due to the expected low 2019 maize production, coupled with population growth. Cereal imports have been on the rise, reflecting the sustained demand for yellow maize by the feed industry and a high demand of wheat‑based food products.

Prices of maize started to seasonally decline in August

Prices of white maize declined for the second consecutive month in September, reflecting improved market supplies from the southern and eastern producing areas, where the 2019 main season harvest started during the second half of August. Imports from Mexico, similar to their year‑earlier levels, also provided downward pressure on prices. Prices of black beans have been increasing seasonally since June and are expected to start declining not earlier than November with the main season harvest. Prices of rice are stable since early 2019, mainly reflecting adequate import volumes.