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With the start of peak demand for agricultural labor, and with improvements in business activity in both rural and urban areas, household income is expected to increase seasonally. The improvement in purchasing power will partially offset continually high food prices. The proportion of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) has already decreased as a result. Starting in December, the postrera harvest will allow for the replenishment of food stocks for producer households and a slight seasonal decrease – even as they remain above average – in the price of staple grains in regional markets. This will continue to support Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May 2023. However, a proportion of the poorest households will still face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes during this time due to atypical price increases and localized losses of both primera and postrera harvests.
In October in all three countries, maize prices demonstrated a downward trend compared to the previous month, thanks to the flow of grain from the recent primera harvest. Nevertheless, when comparing these prices with the previous year and with the five-year average, they remain significantly above average. In addition, beans showed an atypical rise in wholesale prices, with positive month-on-month variations of 14.2, 32.4, and 33.8 percent, in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, respectively. Bean crops were in the field when tropical storm Julia hit, causing localized damage and fueling speculation, raising prices. Production costs and in the increase in demand in the regional market due to 2021 losses (especially in Honduras) contributed to this rise and household access to beans has thus decreased.
Although general inflation remains high in the region, with positive interannual variations of 7.5, 10.2, and 12.2 percent for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, respectively, only the variation in Nicaragua represents a significant increase compared to the previous month. Fuel prices remain stable in all three countries, thanks to government measures, but inflation has still been driven by the increases in the CPI category of food and non-alcoholic beverages. In October, this category showed positive variations of 12.8, 16.9, and 18.6 percent, compared to the previous year in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, respectively. However, seasonal improvements in sources of income are making it possible – at least partially – to offset these atypical increases.
The postrera harvest is expected in December. Despite some localized damage caused by excess moisture and by flooding from tropical storm Julia in October, national postrera harvests are expected to be within normal ranges, which will allow for an increase in market supply. Subsistence farmers are reporting below-average harvests due to localized damage and decreased use of agricultural inputs. However, most will still see an increase in their reserves for own-consumption or for sale, which will increase their income-generating options. The exception will be those households with significant losses, which will experience reduced availability of bean stocks in the coming months. The apante cycle will also begin in December, and favorable weather conditions are expected for its development and harvest in February/March.
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.