Skip to main content

Poor families in the region will subsist until September on income from coffee and local employment, but with limitations

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua
  • February 2020
Poor families in the region will subsist until September on income from coffee and local employment, but with limitations

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Favorable rainfall distribution means Apante and Postrera Tardía basic grain production is progressing normally in the production areas of Honduras and Nicaragua. Harvests are estimated to reach markets in March, helping to stabilize or reduce prices (mostly beans).

    • In November 2019, international coffee prices had recovered to the lower levels of 2016 and 2017, creating positive expectations for the current harvest. However, the average fell in January (106.89 US cents).

    • Losses of Primera maize harvests in areas of subsistence and commercial farming, mainly in Honduras and Nicaragua, will affect supplies, resulting in price increases, which are already being felt. This increase will be passed on to consumers, reducing their purchasing power.

    • Losses of Primera grain harvests for 2019 and temporary employment opportunities (November–February) mean the countries undergoing remote monitoring have Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity until September. Less-developed communities that have suffered repeated droughts and experienced a sustained fall in livelihoods, will have a food insecurity classification of Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • The poorest households that did not harvest grains or that do not have access to local employment opportunities earn money selling firewood, extracting sand or stone for construction and migrating to cities to work in informal commerce, construction and security.





    • International coffee prices reversed their trend in January and began to fall again.
    • The 2019/2020 agricultural season for basic grains is estimated to be below-average in Honduras and Nicaragua, due to Primera harvest losses.
    • Rainfall was within normal ranges at the end of 2019 and start of 2020, meaning Apante and Postrera Tardía crops should grow well until their harvest, which begins in March.
    • Maize prices rose in Honduras and Nicaragua in December as a result of Primera harvest losses.
    • Red bean prices are falling in all three countries, as a result of average Postrera harvests, a trend that could continue until the second quarter of 2020, due to the supply of Apante harvests, which are estimated to be normal.
    • The fall in international coffee prices since January could discourage regional coffee growing, reducing the chance of more and better income for small-scale growers and workers dependent on this employment.
    • The seasonal rise in maize prices is expected to continue in the first half of 2020, unless the governments in the region opt to supply the market with grain from elsewhere.
    • The disincentive to invest in the coffee industry, which has discouraged proper management of plantations, means production volumes for the 2019/2020 season in the countries in the region are estimated to be lower than in the previous season (2018/2019), with a reduction of 12 percent estimated in Honduras.
    • Forecasts of an early start to the rainy season in April in the Pacific region of Central America have created positive expectations for Primera basic grain planting, which could provide employment opportunities for poorer families from March preparing the land for planting.


    The Apante harvest is expected in the second half of March. Crop growth has been normal, although above-average rainfall during the harvest could cause fungal damage. Rains are forecast to arrive early in April, which will allow regular Primera planting throughout the region.

    According to rainfall forecasts (Figure 1) for March–May, the entire Pacific region of Central America, which includes the Dry Corridor, shows positive rainfall anomalies for this period. This means normal growth during the first rainfall period, favoring normal Primera crops in these production areas.

    At the end of January, Primera and Postrera basic grain harvests took place in the different producing regions, mainly in the east, south and west of Honduras, the east, north and west of El Salvador, and north-central Nicaragua. Irregular rainfalls that affected Primera maize harvests have meant irregular grain supplies from production zones to markets, primarily in Honduras and Nicaragua.

    Since November 2019, maize prices have risen as a result of losses of Primera harvests in areas of subsistence and commercial production in these countries. Price projections estimate that corn prices in Honduras and Nicaragua will remain above the five-year average in the first half of 2020, while red beans will remain below the five-year average (Figure 2).

    According to a report by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) in January 2020, the composite indicator price lost its December gains to average 106.89 cents/pound. This has affected the recent positive expectations of the regional coffee industry and could once again discourage production in the region, mainly among coffee growers with low levels of financial capacity and technological development.

    Due to the depletion of food reserves, vulnerable families in the region will meet their needs until September 2020 using income from cutting coffee, sugarcane and other work available to family members over the last four months. From March onwards, they will depend on scarce local employment and contributions from family members who migrate to cities. They will struggle to meet other basic family needs and will have Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2). Households in the most isolated communities and with limited basic services will find it harder to acquire food and will use negative coping strategies, meaning food insecurity will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Figures The precipitations are expected to be superior or equal to the average in most of the region.

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    El precio del maiz se mantiene por arriba del promedio en Honduras y Nicaragua pero cerca del promedio en El Salvador. El pre

    Figure 2

    Figura 2

    Source: FEWS NET con datos del MAG de El Salvador, SIMPAH de Honduras y Nicaragua

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work 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