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Minimal food insecurity in 2012/2013

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • El Salvador
  • October 2012
Minimal food insecurity in 2012/2013

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Rainfall forecasts and harvest prospects improved significantly at the beginning of October. 

    • Some minor losses of the Postrera red bean harvest are likely in the Center and West due to forecasted early cessation of rainfall. Despite this, the national Postrera harvest is likely to be above average. 

    • Low cereal prices, average labor demand, and above-average input support from the government are likely to mitigate any 2012 Primera production losses for poor households in the East, resulting in minimal food insecurity through the peak of the 2012/13 lean season. 





    • The Postrera planted area is 20 percent above the five-year average, mainly in the areas in the East affected by Primera losses.
    • Since August rainfall has been below average to average.
    • Recent studies indicate an unusual prevalence of coffee rust.
    • Forecasts improved in early October, suggesting average to below-average rainfall and an end of rains two weeks early for the west and central areas.
    • Due to lagging impacts and ample opportunity for treatment, coffee rust is not likely to significantly affect coffee harvests. Coffee associations are monitoring the situation.

    East (Zone 3: Sugarcane, Agro-industry, and Labor and Zone 4: Eastern Basic Grain, Labor, Livestock, and Remittance)

    • Area planted in Postrera crops is above average due to significant input support from the government.
    • Despite a slow start, rainfall since mid-September has been normal. Field reports and water requirement models indicate normal crop development.
    • Forecasts for the East changed in early October. The early cessation previously expected has been revised to average rainfall.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013

    National Primera (August – September) harvests (primarily maize) were 10 – 20 percent above the 2007 – 2011 average and above the last year despite some losses in the East due to erratic, below-average rainfall. The Postrera season, harvested in November, produces 80 percent of national red bean production, primarily in the center and East. The area planted in Postrera crops is above the five-year average due to the distribution of 162,500 packages of red bean seeds and fertilizers  from the government (more than double last year’s Postrera distribution), mainly in the East.

    Rainfall forecasts improved significantly in early October. 2006, a when harvests were poor due to a mild-to-moderate El Niño, is no longer an appropriate analogue year. 2009 remains a viable analogue year for rainfall, and that year’s production was 90 percent of the 2007-2011 average. The area planted in 2012 is significantly greater than 2009, suggesting that even after some losses due to an early end of the rainy season, the national Postrera harvest is likely to be near average (2007-2011). Off-season rainfall in November and December is expected to be average. This analysis assumes no significant damage or improved water availability from late-season storms in October-November.

    The unskilled labor season across the country will peak from October to April 2013 for coffee beans, sugarcane and fishing. Supply and demand are expected to be normal. Media reports suggest an unusual prevalence of coffee rust has been observed in Central America this year. Due to time lags, this is unlikely to affect the 2012/13 yields. There is ample opportunity for treatment, though this may raise the cost of production slightly. 

    September staple food prices decreased seasonably. Red bean and white maize prices are 20 to 40 percent below last year’s prices and 20 to 30 percent below the five-year average. Prices are expected to follow a normal, seasonal stable or dropping trend through the end of the projection period (March 2013) due to likely near-average Postrera harvests. El Salvador’s agro-industry relies almost entirely on U.S. yellow maize imports. However, no significant shift in the demand from U.S. yellow maize to locally-produced white maize is expected due to the availability of cheap imports from Argentina and Brazil.

    Despite slightly below-average rainfall, no significant shocks to production or markets are expected. Food insecurity in El Salvador is likely to remain in Phase 1: Minimal (IPC 2.0) through the projected outlook period until March 2013.

    East (Sugarcane, Agro-industry, and Labor Zone and Eastern Basic Grain, Labor, Livestock, and Remittance Zone)

    The Primera (maize) harvest was 70 percent of average in the East due to erratic and below-average rainfall in July and August. Since own production from the sum of the Primera and Postrera seasons constitutes only 25 percent of the annual food consumption of poor households, this loss represents less than five percent of annual food needs.

    After a sluggish start in August and early September, rainfall totals have been near normal and well distributed in time, leading to good crop development observed in the first dekad of October. The early cessation of rainfall previously expected for the East has been revised to average rainfall with the most recent forecasts. In addition, sixty percent of poor households received Postrera input packages from the government, and Postrera red bean sowing is above average. Contrary to previous expectations, the Postrera harvest in the East, particularly for red beans, is likely to be above average due to both input support and the more favorable forecasts. Close monitoring is needed until the end of the cycle.

    Households are expected to meet their food needs without unusual or irreversible coping strategies (Phase 1: Minimal, IPC 2.0) during the 2012/13 consumption year (September 2012 – July 2013) due to low staple food prices, average income from casual labor and labor migration, and an average to above-average Postrera harvest. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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.

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