GIEWS Country Brief: Guatemala 15-November-2010

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- The dry weather since the end of September is affecting 2010 second season beans and cereals production

- It is estimated that 335 000 people are suffering from food insecurity as a result of adverse natural events

- Bean prices have been rising in recent months

Uncertain outlook for 2010 "de postrera" beans and cereals

Harvesting of the 2010 "de postrera" second season crops will is about to start, but the outlook is uncertain. The "de postrera" crop season is the principal one for bean production, which has declined as a result of losses in the "de primera" season.

Sowing began in August with generally adequate rainfall, but heavy rains in September followed by water deficits in October badly affected the crops, and yields are expected to be lower. The zones most seriously affected by the dry weather are in the Departments of Izabal, Alta Verapaz, Petén, Zacapa, Chiquimula and Jutiapa.

2010 first season nationwide maize harvest should be satisfactory but bean production is down

Severe local crop losses were caused by the heavy rainstorms during the "de primera" season from April to August as a result of a number of tropical storms compounded by ash from the Pacaya volcanic eruption. At the national level, losses of maize, the main "de primera" season crop, were not so serious and output should be satisfactory. Conversely, the production of beans, which is very sensitive to waterlogging, declined sharply.

355 000 people are estimated to be in a state of food insecurity

The food security of many households is deteriorating rapidly as a result of the negative repercussions of a series of adverse natural events. Following the severe drought in 2009, the passage of the tropical storm Agatha and eruption of the Pacaya volcano in May 2010 caused serious localized losses of maize, beans, sugarcane and bananas, and damaged agricultural infrastructure. This was followed by the tropical storm Alex and the tropical E 11 depression in September which caused torrential rain and yet more flooding and crop losses.

It is estimated that a total of 355 000 people are living in a state of food insecurity (both moderate and serious) as a result of their crop losses, and are in need of food aid. WFP is distributing assistance to 215 000 such people. The beneficiaries include acutely malnourished children. To provide financial support, the government declared a state of emergency and organized an international donors' conference in mid-October for the reconstruction of the rural areas affected by the adverse natural events. In addition to emergency assistance, the government is also continuing to implement social protection network programmes.