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Improved availability of staple grains since September for producer households and the increase in income options, thanks to improved seasonal agricultural and commercial activity, are allowing the majority of poor households in the region to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. However, pockets of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) still exist in areas affected by flooding during the recent rainy season. Following a seasonal trend, and anticipating the continuation of high food prices, the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected to increase progressively with the start of the annual lean season. However, it is expected that most of the population in the region remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May 2023.
In December, the postrera harvest is already flowing to the markets, increasing the availability of staple grains through February, and allowing for a slight reduction in prices, although prices will remain above last year and average. Although the harvest is expected to be below average for subsistence farmers, it will still increase household reserves, reducing their dependence on the market and increasing the income of those who allocate a proportion of the harvest to sales. In central Nicaragua and, to a lesser extent, along the Atlantic in Honduras, the apante cycle begins this month. Weather conditions are expected to be favorable, and the harvest will start in February or March, supplying the regional market with red beans until the next harvest comes out in August.
Bean prices showed stability in November compared to the previous month, except for in Nicaragua, where a slight increase in wholesale bean prices of 14 percent was observed. Maize prices also remained stable compared to the previous month. However, the prices for both products remain atypically high compared to last year and the five-year average, especially red beans in Nicaragua, where variations are reported to be above 100 percent. This behavior is due to a combination of factors, including speculation after the passage of tropical storm Julia in October, a greater demand for beans across the region, increased production costs, and headline inflation reported this year.
Thanks to government measures and recent drops in international prices, fuel prices remain stable in all three countries. Interannual headline inflation decreased in November, except for in Honduras, where it increased slightly. Reported interannual inflation rates were 7.3, 10.4, and 11.4 percent for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, respectively, while food inflation continues above the values reported last year, with variations of 12.1, 17.3, and 16.5 percent, in the three countries, respectively. In December, households usually see seasonal increases in income, which will partially offset the sharp increases in prices, although this will compromise their purchasing power in future months, which will have its own repercussions on food access.
This Key Message Update provides a broad summary of FEWS NET's current and projected analysis of likely acute food insecurity outcomes in this geography. Learn more about our work here.