Skip to main content

Dry and warm conditions persist until the beginning of the primera cycle

  • Key Message Update
  • El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua
  • January 2024
Dry and warm conditions persist until the beginning of the primera cycle

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As of the end of January, most areas in the region are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) thanks to seasonal factors such as the postrera harvest at the end of 2023, which increased food reserves in producer households and lowered prices of basic grains, and the increased incomes in households involved in trade, tourism, and agricultural labor. However, the magnitude of the seasonal improvement is less than usual due to the agricultural damages and losses throughout 2023 due to El Niño driven erratic weather patterns and the persistence of well above-average prices. To meet food needs, most poor rural households in the region have resorted to negative coping strategies, such as adjusting diet quality. However, areas in the Dry Corridor and northern Honduras constitute pockets of the population experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. The poorest agricultural households in these areas experienced crop failure during 2023, resulting in a lack of reserves for the subsequent months. This caused them to continue to rely on coping strategies such as indebtedness, the sale of household goods, and modifications to the amount of food consumed to meet food needs.
    • From February through May, due to agricultural losses in 2023, the rural poor households in the areas of the Dry Corridor and northern Honduras will see a progressive deterioration in food access as prices of basic grains begin to rise while income opportunities fall, setting up the lean season (up to two months) early transitioning Honduras to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Households in these areas of Honduras will resort to unsustainable coping strategies to meet their food needs, such as limiting the number of meals consumed and the quantity of food. In contrast, El Salvador and Nicaragua suffered fewer negative impacts on agricultural production and will remain classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through May, with poor households continuing to resort to changes in dietary quality to meet their food needs. In Nicaragua, in particular, the apante bean harvest is expected to have average results, which is important for the overall regional bean supply. However, this will not be enough to offset several years of shocks that have continued to diminish the regional supply since 2019. Prices of basic grains are projected to persist above the five-year average, especially in the case of red beans which report increases of up to 76 percent and continue to limit household purchasing power.
    • A seasonal decrease in rainfall accumulations in December, combined with the persistence of abnormally above-average temperatures, negatively impacted the yields of postrera crops for small producers in the Dry Corridor areas of Honduras and, to a lesser extent, El Salvador. The apante/late postrera cycle is currently underway in Nicaragua and in areas of northern Honduras. Sufficient and timely rainfall accumulations for crop development forecast favorable results for the upcoming harvest, despite the continuation of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions through March/April and the consequent erratic rainfall conditions and abnormally warm temperatures. By April/May, the transition from El Niño to neutral conditions will coincide with the start of the 2024 rainy season, leading to a staggered, and in some cases delayed, start of primera planting activities.
    • With respect to the previous month, headline inflation in December continued on a downward trend in El Salvador, while it increased in Honduras and Nicaragua. With respect to the previous year, the same trajectory is evident, with Honduras and Nicaragua reporting five and six percent increases, respectively, while El Salvador reported a one percent decline. Food inflation was a major contributor to these year-over-year changes and increased between four and seven percent throughout the region in December 2022. In December 2023, white maize prices showed a slight decrease from the previous month and year as a result of late 2023 harvests. In Nicaragua, red beans showed a larger drop in price (15 percent with respect to November 2023) due to good postrera cycle harvests following the recovery of agricultural conditions after tropical storm Pilar. Nevertheless, prices of both maize and beans remain above the five-year average, particularly beans, which report a difference of close to 50 percent. These high prices continue to limit the purchasing power of the poorest households.
    • The season of high agricultural labor demand (October to February) peaks annually in January, with the peak of the coffee harvest in the region. Typically, this period generates income for producers, especially small producers, and for day laborers, which is used to purchase agricultural inputs for the next primera cycle (like seeds and fertilizers) and food in the subsequent months. However, this year there are several challenges. First, production has decreased and experienced delays, as a result of the climatic irregularities in 2023 caused by El Niño, which has caused a drop in the sale price and increased coffee production costs, reducing the overall income of producers. Second, a change in labor dynamics as a result of increased migration and remittances is decreasing the local availability of labor, which could cause additional losses for producers. Finally, for day laborers, although there is demand for their work, production difficulties have an impact on the volumes harvested and, therefore, on their income, affecting their ability to purchase food.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua Key Message Update January 2024: Dry and warm conditions persist until the beginning of the primera cycle, 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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top