Food Security Outlook Update

Near-average conditions forecast for first-season (Primera) production

April 2018

April - May 2018

June - September 2018

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Weather forecasts indicate that during the first part of the rainy season (April/May to July), near-average rainfall is likely throughout the country. This suggests normal results for first-season (Primera) staple crops, which are mainly harvested between August and September, extending to December in the higher elevations to the west.

  • Prices for white maize are forecast to be near average to slightly below average in the country’s main markets, while the black bean price forecast is near average. The prices of both products are expected to follow seasonal trends, at least until September 2018.

  • Given the need to recover from strategies such as the use of debt and the sale of assets during consecutive years when the production of staple crops and incomes in the coffee sector were low (primarily between 2014 and 2016), the majority of the poorest households in the eastern and western dry corridor are estimated to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) for the full period under analysis.

     

    This report is being translated to English.

Current situation

The second production cycle in the outlying areas of the Northern Transversal Strip and Petén is coming to an end, reducing the supply of fresh grain to national markets, following the peak in March. Maize and bean harvests have been near average, given the favorable weather conditions throughout the full cycle. Supply is complemented by additional flows from Mexico and grain stored from previous harvests, including the Postrera (second harvest) in 2018 in the east of the country. This has meant that wholesale white maize prices have remained stable since March at the La Terminal market in Guatemala City, while black bean prices rose slightly in April after falling in March. The maize price is higher than last year, but bean prices have fallen. This is part of a return to prices nearer to average levels, following a sharp drop in the price of maize and unusual rises in bean prices during the last year.

In line with the outlook presented by the Guatemalan Institute for Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology at the Mesoamerican Climate Forum, rains began early in the south-west and Boca Costa areas of the country, continuing until the end of April. This meant that farmers in the zone had already started planting staple crops for the first season (Primera) at the start of March. In the rest of the country, the cycle is expected to begin normally in May, moving gradually from the central plateau to the northern region.

There is currently a seasonal fall in the demand for casual labor in sectors related to products for export (e.g. coffee and sugar cane), which require a large number of day laborers. The start of the wet season is expected to create other sources of more local employment, such as fruit and vegetable production, which will be around the levels of last year. However, the majority of employment available is sporadic, with low per-day rates and in activities such as staple production, tending land used for livestock and other jobs in the informal trade sector.

Many of the country’s poorest households, especially in the dry corridor, have entered the annual lean season, when the need to buy food limits spending to the essentials. This will end with the start of the first harvest in August/September (Primera), with food prices falling seasonally and employment prospects gradually improving.

Under its Seasonal Hunger Response Plan, the Government of Guatemala will provide food aid and financial transfers to families at risk of food insecurity in municipalities in the dry corridor, although the specific recipients or locations for the program have not yet been defined. 

Updated assumptions

The assumptions used by FEWS NET for the most likely food security scenario for February to September 2018 have not changed.

Projected outlook through September 2018

Although the poorest households are facing the annual lean season, conditions with respect to food security are estimated to be similar to what is typical for the time of year, within the context of chronic food insecurity in the country. Food insecurity is expected to be less severe and widespread this year than in the past three years, due to increased production during the 2017/2018 agricultural year, which translates into more food reserves in producer households and less dependence on purchasing. However, the fall in income up to August/September will mean a seasonal reduction in household purchasing power. This will have a knock-on effect on diet quality, although maize (the main staple in people’s diet) will be more affordable than in previous years due to the lower average prices and higher income during the previous agricultural cycle.

The first production cycle (Primera) for staple crops will begin between April and May in the majority of the country and households are expected to invest part of their income in the supplies required for planting and growing crops. Current outlooks show average cumulative rainfall in the majority of the country, including the dry corridor, with a normal canícula (period of lower rainfall totals and frequency), meaning that no major effects on yields are foreseen.

A seasonal increase in acute malnutrition among children under five years is envisaged due to the reduction in the quality and—in some cases—the quantity of diets, coupled with an increase during the period analyzed in morbidity from respiratory infections and gastrointestinal illnesses. However, an atypical increase in the number of cases reported is not expected.

In spite of being in the most challenging part of the year for food security, most households in the country are estimated to be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity, at least until the end of the period analyzed in September 2018, since no effects from atypical events are envisioned.

The poorest households in the east and west of the dry corridor will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with seasonal exacerbation of food insecurity. Shocks that could cause problems in the availability of, or access to, food are not envisioned for the households under analysis. However, this does not mean that households have recovered from agricultural and economic problems spanning successive years, which have eroded their capacity for response and resilience. Households need multiple successful agricultural cycles and relatively stable incomes to recover lost assets and return to pre-crisis levels.

Meteorological services expect a season of cyclonic events similar to the previous year (average to above average). Although it is unlikely that any cyclonic events will have a direct impact on the country, the effects of such an event could alter the outlook, depending on its path and intensity.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

USAID logoUSGS logoUSDA logo
NASA logoNOAA logoKimetrica logoChemonics logo