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Increased rainfall improves soil moisture conditions for primera production

  • Key Message Update
  • El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua
  • April 2024
Increased rainfall improves soil moisture conditions for primera production

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • By May, subsistence farming households in areas of the region's Dry Corridor and northern Honduras will experience reduced access to food due to significant crop losses in 2023. To meet food needs, these households will rely on market purchases, making them more vulnerable to seasonal increases in staple food prices. Consequently, households will resort to coping strategies such as reducing essential non-food expenditures (such as healthcare and education) and modifying the amount of food consumed, classifying them in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In April/May, typical seasonal decrease in food access will begin for the rest of the rural poor households in the region, exacerbated by the persistence of above-average prices. However, implementing strategies such as selling non-productive assets and purchasing less expensive food will cover the minimum food needs, classifying most of the poorest households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 
    • In the June-September period, the continual seasonal deterioration in food access, with a consequent increase in the number of households classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), will continue until the primera harvest in August. This year, national harvests are expected to be close to average, increasing the availability of grains in the markets, decreasing food prices, and improving household purchasing power. Erratic rainfall during the beginning of the primera cycle could delay planting and increase the probability of needing to resow for subsistence producers. In addition, above-average rainfall events during the rest of the season could cause targeted damage from flooding and landslides. In the short term, the harvest will improve food availability for producer households, classifying poor households in the region in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from September onwards.
    • Rainfall deficits persist throughout El Salvador, western Honduras, and eastern Nicaragua, where accumulations are 75-50 percent of the expected four-month average, deteriorating vegetation and soil moisture conditions. Atypically high temperatures in the region have exacerbated dry conditions, decreasing the availability of water sources for both human and animal consumption and increasing water expenditures, putting additional pressure on households during the lean season. During the beginning of the rainy season (in May/June), a transition to La Niña conditions is expected, bringing an irregular onset of rains. Consequently, producers waiting for soil moisture to improve will delay primera season planting. For the remainder of the analysis period, above-average rainfall is forecast to increase the risk of targeted damage from flooding and landslides on riverbanks, the Sula Valley in Honduras, and on steep terrain. This, combined with persistently high temperatures, could increase the presence of pests and diseases in cash and staple grain crops. However, subsistence staple grain yields are expected to improve compared to 2023, while commercial production will be close to average.
    • In March 2024, headline inflation remained stable in El Salvador and Honduras while trending upward in Nicaragua. Wholesale prices of white maize decreased, with month-on-month decreases of between six and twelve percent in El Salvador and Nicaragua and stability in Honduras. Compared to March 2023, a drop of close to 24 percent was reported in all three countries. This decline, bringing prices closer to their five-year averages, is due to the 2023 commercial harvests and increased imports of white and yellow maize for human consumption, adequately supplying markets. Red bean prices remained stable with respect to February 2023. prices decreased in El Salvador and Honduras with respect to the same month last year, while in Nicaragua, prices slightly increased (close to seven percent) due to a delay in the apante harvest. Nevertheless, the price of red beans remains 38-69 percent above the five-year average due to production difficulties in 2023 and increased regional demand from shocks over the last four years. Until the primera harvest, prices for both staple foods are expected to begin a gradual seasonal increase, before declining towards the end of August. However, residual effects from previous increases and weather challenges this year will keep red bean prices above average, while maize prices will be close to average.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua Key Message Update April 2024: Increased rainfall improves soil moisture conditions for primera production, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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