Remote Monitoring Report

Losses of Primera crops and high probability of damage to Postrera crops

August 2015
2015-Q3-8-16-caribbean-central-america-es

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

  •  Total losses and partial damages to Primera season crops are affecting the region, particularly poor populations in areas within the “Dry Corridor.”

  • Poor households dependent on subsistence farming activities and households dependent on local day labor are without food reserves at a time of year marked by limited employment opportunities, shortages of seasonal wild foods, and seasonal rises in staple prices.

  • Anomalies in the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall extended into the second half of August, affecting the planting of Postrera crops across the region, adding to the damage to populations affected by losses of Primera crops, and extending the geographic reach of the damage. This will create shortfalls in national maize and bean production in countries of the region.

COUNTRY

CURRENT ANOMALIES

PROJECTED ANOMALIES

REGIONAL

There is damage to over 60 percent of the area planted in Primera crops by subsistence farmers across the region. Losses in El Salvador are assessed at 64 and 82 percent of the area planted in maize and beans, respectively.  Losses of maize and bean crops in Honduras’ Southern Region as of August are estimated at 94 and 97 percent, respectively. Organizations active in Nicaragua are reporting losses of over 75 percent in certain departments in that country.

 

Rainfall anomalies extending into the second half of August are delaying the planting of Postrera crops.  

 

Prices for maize and beans are up from last month, marking the seasonal rise in prices.

Larger geographic area affected by losses of Primera crops and higher percentage of losses in affected areas across the region.

 

 

 

A delay in the resumption of rainfall activity in early September could affect areas already planted in Postrera crops and prevent the planting of Postrera crops in other areas.

 

Maize and bean price increases in September will tend to put them above figures for last year due to the losses of Primera crops and speculation driven by the likely damage to Postrera crops.

 

Progess of the Primera growing season

Cumulative rainfall totals for the period from July 26th  through August 24th in most parts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua were between 25 and 50 percent of the average for that period, with cumulative rainfall levels in certain areas at only five to 25 percent of the average (Figure 3). These rainfall anomalies affected crops in the flowering and grain filling stages. According to estimates of production losses, this has expanded the scope of affected areas to include previously unaffected areas. According to the forecast for El Niño (ENSO) conditions by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) as of the middle of August, there willl definitely be El Niño conditions through the end of the year, which suggests there will be damage to Postrera crops, worsening food insecurity for the region’s poorest populations.

The rainfall anomalies between May and August (including a late start and interruption of the rainy season, and an earlier than usual and protracted canícula) caused losses of Primera crops at different times, in different stages of development, and in different geographic areas of the three countries. Areas within the “Dry Corridor” were the most affected, but were not the only areas affected. Postrera sowing begins in the second half of August, and the outlook for this season is poor due to the overlap with Primera crops that were delayed, low rainfall totals, and high temperatures, which could hinder or damage crops across the region.

In El Salvador, there was a strong to severe drought in the eastern zone and the coastal area of its para-central zone lasting 20 consecutive days (from July 20th to August 8th). There was a weak to moderate drought in the rest of the country, including five to 15 consecutive days without rain. The rainfall anomalies between May and August affected staple crops for the Primera growing season, impacting areas planted in maize, resulting in the complete loss of 56,700 hectares of crops and causing partial damage to another 29,100 hectares of crops. There were also total losses of 2,400 hectares of bean crops and partial damage to another 473 hectares of crops. The affected area (total and partial losses) for both staple crops represents approximately 97 percent of the total cropped area for the Primera growing season.

Preliminary data on cropped areas in southwestern Honduras shows mounting losses of staple crops with the progress of the growing season, at different stages of crop growth and development. Losses of maize crops went from an estimated 36 percent in June to as high as 66 percent in August. Similarly, losses of bean crops went from an estimated 37 percent in June to as high as 80 percent in August due to the irregular spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall, which could extend through the end of the year, affecting Postrera crops.

The government presented the members of the G-16 Group representing donor countries and international cooperation agencies with its 2015 Drought Action Plan prompted by the recent drought conditions affecting the performance of its agricultural sector, primarily in 146 municipalities in 12 departments across the country, and the food security of an estimated 161,403 Honduran households.

According to information from local informants in Nicaragua, the areas suffering the most damage from rainfall anomalies are in northern Chinandega (Villa Nueva and Somotillo), western Estelí (San Juan de Limay and Pueblo Nuevo), northwestern Nueva Segovia (Santa María, Dipilto, Ocotal, and Macuelizo), western Madriz (San José Cuzmapa, La Sabana, Somoto, Totogalpa, and Yalacaguina), and Boaco and Carazo Departments, where over 50 percent of Primera crops were lost.

Staple food market trends in the region

Maize: The price stability on reference markets across the region ended with the latest inter-monthly price fluctuations, with increases from three to 14 percent. In comparison with last year, prices are up by 14 to 20 percent. This price behavior could indicate a trend towards higher prices than last year after the harvesting period for Primera crops, which suffered heavy losses.

Beans: A comparison of inter-monthly price fluctuations in the region shows different price patterns. Prices in Honduras are stable, while prices on reference markets in El Salvador are up by 13 to 19 percent. However, prices are down in comparison to last year in both countries, by between eight and 34 percent. The difference between trends in bean prices and the behavior of maize prices may be attributable to the effects of the strategies implemented by regional governments as a result of the damage to last year’s Primera crops, as well as to regional trade in carry-over inventories of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, controlled by traders in anticipation of expected crop flows from upcoming harvests to speculate on the market.

The government of El Salvador will take short-term measures designed to mitigate the drought-induced damage to its agricultural sector in order to prevent a food shortage. One of its first steps is the distribution of 100,000 packets of maize seeds and 200,000 packets of bean seeds to farmers who lost their Primera crops. At the same time, it will also distribute portable irrigation pumps. In addition, it has authorized imports of 300,000 quintals of maize and 12,000 quintals of beans from outside the Central American area and sanctioned the possibility of regulating grain prices (ceiling and floor prices) to ensure domestic market supplies.

Ground data from Nicaragua shows water sources still at below-normal levels, mainly in areas within the “Dry Corridor” where rainfall deficits have prevailed. Households in certain municipalities such as Yalagüina, Palacagüina, Telpaneca, and Totogalpa in Madriz Department have had to be supplied with water. Residents of several communities in Somoto and Villa Nueva have dug wells on the banks of rivers in order to obtain water for their livestock and certain household activities. A continued irregular pattern of rainfall could further aggravate this problem, extending it to other municipalities in the country’s “Dry Corridor.”

Coffee sector

HONDURAS: The Honduran Coffee Institute (IHCAFE) puts coffee exports as of August 25, 2015 at 6.48 million bags (46 kg), up 21 percent from export figures for the same time last season. As discussed in Bulletin No. 2 by the Coffee Leaf Rust Early Warning System, based on observations in the month of July, the rainfall deficits in most parts of the country reportedly held down the incidence of coffee rust disease (to <9.9 percent), reaching a high of 15 percent in low-altitude areas. According to ground monitoring data, one percent of coffee plants are in the flowering stage (in higher areas), 24 percent are in the seed formation stage, 65 percent are in the seed filling stage, and nine percent are in the fruit ripening stage.

EL SALVADOR: According to the Salvadoran Coffee Council, as of July 2015, the country had exported 743,553 quintals of coffee, 19 percent more than at the same time last season, with a total value of USD 148.46 million based on an average price of USD 199.66/quintal.

Projected regional outlook through December 2015

In Honduras, households of greatest concern for food insecurity are located in Comayagua, Francisco Morazán, El Paraíso, Choluteca, Valle, and La Paz Departments, as well as the municipalities along the border with El Salvador in the departments of Intibucá, Lempira, and Ocotepeque, the southern part of Yoro Department, and the western part of Olancho Department. These areas lie within livelihood zones 7 (Subsistence Grains and Remittances) and 5 (Mountain Coffee), where repeated drought-induced crop losses are undermining livelihoods, keeping local households food-insecure or forcing them to migrate to urban areas or other countries. In addition to losing their crops, these households lack rural employment opportunities and must purchase food supplies at high prices which, with their meager financial means, is limiting their purchasing power. This population characterized as moderately food-insecure in the government’s 2015 Drought Action Plan will be classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between September and December 2015. The poorest households receiving food assistance through August and households characterized as severely food-insecure under the Drought Action Plan in areas considered as high-risk due to current losses of Primera crops, will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by September, due to the lack of food reserves, the shortage of jobs, and seasonal rises in grain prices. According to preliminary assessments, losses of maize crops could exceed 60 percent and losses of bean crops could top 80 percent, with a high likelihood of rainfall anomalies affecting the planting of Postrera crops beginning at the end of August, adding to number of people facing acute food insecurity.

According to assessments conducted in El Salvador, the recent drought affecting maize and bean crops for the Primera growing season, causing damage to 97 percent of cropped areas across the country, has made approximately 196,000 households food-insecure, of which approximately 39,000 households, mainly in the eastern and western parts of the country, are deemed to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). With the losses of Primera crops, lack of food reserves due to consecutive crop failures (in 2014 and 2015), and limited rural employment opportunities, food security outcomes in livelihood zones 1, 2, and 3 will be classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as of September. The affected population identified in government assessments includes highly focused food-insecure populations within the impacted area deemed to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

Based on cumulative rainfall estimates for the first ten days of August, the areas of Nicaragua with the largest rainfall deficits are in its northern region, the northwestern reaches of the eastern Pacific zone, and the central and southern Pacific zones. The poorest subsistence farming households and households of day laborers and small coffee growers in northern and central-western areas of the country in livelihood zones 3, 12, and 13 will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes between September and November, driven by losses of 2015 Primera crops, carry-over deficits from losses of 2014 Primera crops, seasonal rises in grain prices, and the limited employment opportunities in coffee-growing and livestock-raising activities and other agro-processing industries. While there is still no official data on the magnitude of current losses, the worst damage is believed to be concentrated in northern Chinandega (Villa Nueva and Somotillo), western Estelí (San Juan de Limay and Pueblo Nuevo), northwestern Nueva Segovia (Santa María, Dipilto, Ocotal, and Macuelizo), western Madriz (San José Cuzmapa, La Sabana, Somoto, Totogalpa, and Yalacaguina), and Boaco and Carazo Departments, where certain households in local communities could be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes by September, when they were expecting to begin harvesting their crops.

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