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Irregular weather disrupts the harvest in Central America, while Haiti continues to face gang violence that drives Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes. In Venezuela, low incomes continue to limit access to food.

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • June 2023 - January 2024
Irregular weather disrupts the harvest in Central America, while Haiti continues to face gang violence that drives Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes. In Venezuela, low incomes continue to limit access to food.

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events that might change the outlook
  • Seasonal calendar in a typical year
  • Key Messages
    • In Haiti, poor households' access to typical sources of food and income continue to be limited by the impacts of inflation and insecurity on the economy, as well as the irregularity of rains on agriculture and livestock. All these factors, exacerbated by the floods in early June, have increased the population in acute food insecurity. An increase in the use of Emergency coping strategies, such as begging, the sale of productive assets, and theft, is still observed, particularly in Cité Soleil and the lower Nord-Ouest. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) results are expected across Haiti through January, while Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is assessed in Cité de Soleil, Port-au-Prince, and among pockets of very poor households in some rural areas, in the Nord-Ouest, West, Grand'Anse, Nippes, and Artibonite.

    • Insecurity will likely continue to impact households in Cité Soleil, Port au Prince, Artibonite, and the Nord-Ouest. Economic activity and markets continue to be restricted by violence. Incidents of armed clashes by gangs on public transport routes restrict the flow of people and products. Prices of staple foods remain above average, due to high dependence on imported products, the low value of the Haitian currency (HTG), supply difficulties, and high transport costs. The inflation rate remained above 40 percent since January 2023. As a result, the purchasing power of poor households will remain low.

    • In Central America, the poorest households located in the Dry Corridor of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, as well as Alta Verapaz and Altiplano in Guatemala, have faced various shocks in past years, leaving poor households without reserves of basic grains, and below-average income. These conditions, plus the high dependence on the market to purchase food at prices above normal, caused households to start the lean season earlier than usual. As a result, households are reducing the size or number of meals consumed or engaging in other negative coping strategies, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), which will last until September. In October, seasonal improvements with the harvest and start of the high labor season will enhance food access and availability for some households who will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity through January. However, some will not improve their food security conditions, keeping them in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • The erratic distribution of rainfall and the high temperatures associated with El Niño will mainly affect the Dry Corridor throughout the year. The reduction in soil moisture is already affecting various crops. Smallholder farmers who depend on rainfed agriculture and who have little access to fertilizers and pesticides will experience below-average yields. Despite the deceleration of inflation, high prices will continue to limit purchasing power. Markets will remain well-supplied and normal flows of locally produced basic grains are expected. In October, the high labor season will start enhancing food access.

    • In Venezuela, despite the improvement in Cesta tickets and bonus Contra La Guerra Económica , access to food remains limited, especially for very poor households in urban and peri-urban areas whose only source of income is in local currency and do not have access to international remittances. These households continue experiencing gaps in their consumption or applying negative coping strategies. As a result, they will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until January 2024. However, the number of households in this phase will decrease throughout the projection period due to better access to food driven by social benefits and double salaries.

    • The cost of the monthly requirements of 2,100 kilocalories per person per day in VED and USD remained stable compared to the previous month. However, compared to May 2022, all costs increased, making access to food difficult. In May, the depreciation of the VED against the USD was 6.5 percent, mainly due to the increase in public spending associated with the increase in bonuses. In the forecast period, the loss of the value of the local currency and the increase in inflation are expected to continue.


    Outlook by Country

    Haiti

    • The period from June to September coincides with the spring harvests and also with the launch of the summer/autumn campaign. This should generate income from crop sales for farmers and indirectly for farm workers. Greater availability of local products such as beans, maize, rice, and wild products (bananas, real trees, and mangoes) should help temporarily improve food availability and access for the poorest households. However, poor performance of the spring campaign is expected due to the impacts of bad weather at the beginning of June.
    • Thus, the results of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) should remain generalized on sources of food and household income in rural areas of Haiti. This will also impact Port-au-Prince due to gang violence, high inflation, and climatic and socio-political shocks affecting the whole country (the West, particularly the communes Léogane, Fond-Verrettes). The greatest concern remains Cité de Soleil in the Metropolitan Area of Port-au-Prince (West), the most affected by gang violence and food and livelihood protection deficits where an Emergency (IPC Phase 4) situation is expected. Food assistance needs are expected to be greatest following the severe weather, which has worsened food security conditions by increasing the prevalence of cholera.
    • The period from October to January coincides with the summer-autumn harvests (maize, peas, roots, tubers, etc.) in November in the humid mountains and with the start of the winter season in the irrigated plains and the semi-humid mountains. In addition, the end of the year usually carries non-agricultural income-generating activities such as casual work, petty trade, and the sale of charcoal in urban areas, alongside generally increasing monetary transfers from abroad. Income from labor and the sale of seasonal agricultural products will nevertheless remain below average due to economic, socio-political, and climatic shocks. Rising input costs and insecurity preventing farmers from selling their crops will leave them with insufficient capacity to plant land, hire farm workers or buy inputs. At the same time, the purchasing power of total income from non-agricultural activities, even in the context of the end-of-year festivities, will be lower than normal, given the context of generalized inflation, especially food and public transport.
    • Poor households will need more purchasing power to access their minimum kilocalorie needs, reducing the number of kilocalories absorbed by the poor and the very poor. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will be observed nationwide. While in Port-au-Prince, particularly in areas controlled by gangs, such as Cité Soleil, disruptions in economic activity and the high staple food prices will result in prolonged food consumption gaps among poor households. More households may liquidate their productive assets and engage in Emergency negative coping strategies in the context of the proliferation of cholera and somewhat atypical levels of acute malnutrition. Cité Soleil will still experience an Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the reporting period.

    For more information, please see the June 2023 Haiti Food Security Outlook

     

    Guatemala

    • The irregular distribution of rainfall and the high temperatures caused by El Niño at the beginning of the rainy season is causing different degrees of water stress for primera crops during their initial phases of development. The rainfed crops of small producers, especially in areas of the Dry Corridor, and focused areas of the western, northern, and southern Altiplano already report pests and wilting, which, depending on the extent of the damage, would mean below-average yields. Poor households that managed to plant crops will see a reduced harvest due to less use of agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides) therefore, they will obtain less seed for future harvests. It is expected that the prices of basic grains will continue to be above average since climatic effects could lead to an increase in production costs due to the need for greater maintenance and pest control, as well as the possible effect of speculation and hoarding that these events often give rise to.
    • The lean season is expected in rural areas, from June to September. The high prices of food, fertilizers, and transportation cause a large percentage of their income to purchase food and investments in the maintenance of their crops. In order to keep a minimally adequate diet, households will make adjustments to the quality. Likewise, to pay for essential non-food expenses, they must use coping strategies such as loans and credits, migration at unusual times or to places further away in search of daily work, and/or the reduction of health expenses, which will classify them in Accentuated food insecurity (IPC Phase 2). In areas of the eastern and western Dry Corridor, Alta Verapaz, and the Altiplano, households did not have enough volumes of basic grains from the 2022 harvest to allow them to have stocks. They started 2023 without savings and with atypical debts since they have had to face various shocks from past years that have caused the rapid use of the income received in past seasons of high demand for agricultural labor. During the basic grain sowing season, these households tend to be employed locally. However, like last year, the use of external labor will be reduced due to the high costs of fertilizers. These households have depended on and will continue to depend on the markets. High prices will remain up to 25 percent (corn) and 40 percent (beans) above the average. In order to achieve a minimum basic diet, these households will resort to reducing food portions, reducing the number of meals, and prioritizing children when distributing food. In addition, they will make use of unsustainable coping strategies such as the sale of productive assets and the atypical migration of more household members, classifying them in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • From September to January, the output of the primera harvests, the only Altiplano cycle at the end of the year, and the start of the postrera harvests will improve availability and access to food. However, below-average yields and/or crop failure are expected this year, especially for small farmers. In October, the harvest of the most important commercial crops in the country begins, and with it, the demand for agricultural labor increases. From October to January, the poorest households move to different places, either close to their areas of residence, as well as outside the municipality or department of housing, to Honduras or Mexico. The coffee harvest is expected to remain in the average range, with demand and wage payments stable and similar to last year, despite weather impacts and labor reduction in targeted areas. Except for cardamom, which continues to be affected by low international sales prices, other commercial crops such as sugar cane, African palm, bananas, plantains, fruits, and vegetables would generate temporary jobs and income in average ranges. The improvement in income, both for households dependent on agricultural wages and construction, will allow them to continue buying basic food, although at high prices. These seasonal improvements reduce the number of households facing Severe (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes for a few months. However, a significant proportion of poor households will continue to adjust the quality of their food and cut non-essential expenses to guarantee an elemental diet. Households in targeted areas of Chiquimula, Jutiapa, Jalapa, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Huehuetenango, Totonicapán, and Quiché experienced the lean season early and have been dependent on purchasing. They have maintained regular debts to cover high food expenses and will continue to resort to loans to ensure a minimally adequate diet and will not have their crops to alleviate their dependence on the market. The income received during the period high labor season will not be enough to compensate for the high indebtedness or the high prices of basic grains. For these reasons, they must continue to adjust the quantity and frequency of their meals and to use negative coping strategies that put their livelihoods at risk, for which they will continue to be classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • The economy’s continued recovery and non-agricultural sources of employment and informal occupations allow urban populations to be classified as Minimal food insecure (IPC Phase 1) throughout the period covered by this outlook.

    For more information, please see the June 2023 Guatemala Food Security Outlook

     

    Remote Monitoring Countries

    El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua

    • The annual lean season is already in place, and the purchasing power of the poorest households is seasonally restricted due to diminishing job opportunities. Although inflation slowed in May after reaching high levels at the beginning of the year, prices remained high. In the case of basic grains, they have remained stable compared to April, thanks to the delayed flow of a portion of the crops to the market, but they remain higher than those reported in 2022 — which already reported atypical increases. The price of white corn showed annual increases of 7.5 and 8.3 percent for El Salvador and Nicaragua, respectively, and remained stable in Honduras. On the other hand, red bean prices increased 33.1, 36.3, and 40.6 percent in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, respectively. Compared with the average of the last five years, the variations are even greater, being 47.7, 35.1, and 48.3 percent for maize, and 71.6, 69.8, and 72.7 percent for red beans for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, respectively.
    • Usually, during May and early June, the rainy season is established. However, given the transition to El Niño conditions, above-average temperatures and a delay in the start of the rains were reported. In addition, rainfall was deficient and erratic, with areas in the three countries reporting accumulated amounts of less than 55 percent of the average. Temperatures were also atypically high, further reducing soil moisture available for crops. Field reports indicate a delay in primera planting throughout the region and a decrease in planting intentions. This is due to uncertainty in rainfall performance, the high risk of loss perceived by subsistence farmers and some non-irrigated medium-sized producers in surplus areas of Honduras, such as Olancho, and the high production price. Farmers considered that fertilizer prices remain high, despite reporting a decrease this year and the increase in the cost of wages for planting, maintenance, and harvesting due to a drop in supply. As of early June, rainfed maize crops in the field showed clear signs of water stress in Honduras and El Salvador, resulting in yield reduction and localized losses during the primera cycle. On the other hand, irrigated production showed adequate development, allowing us to anticipate that the national harvests will be in ranges close to the average in the three countries.
    • For the period of analysis, between June 2023 and January 2024, rainfall is expected to continue scarce and with an irregular pattern, including a more intense heat wave that will last between July and August. This will have negative effects for the production of Primera, with reductions of at least 25 percent in subsistence production and some medium-sized producers that do not have irrigation. The Postrera planting will also be postponed pending better humidity conditions, with a decrease in the result of rainfed production. For both cycles, subsistence producers are expected to see a decrease of at least one month in their food reserves.
    • According to sources in the coffee sector, a slight decrease in production is expected for the 2023/24 agricultural year due to adverse weather conditions coupled with a drop in investment capacity caused by high production costs. Despite the increase in the cost of wages, the net income of day laborers could be reduced, since the payment in this item is based on the weight of the product collected. As a result, a seasonal improvement in the purchasing power of households dependent on this crop will be observed until January 2024, but it will be less than expected and similar to last year. In the case of other important cash crops that require seasonal labor, they are usually irrigated, which reduces the impact of weather conditions on their yields. The demand for labor in sowing and harvesting activities of basic grains will show a decrease because of the reduction in production costs by medium-sized producers. Other sources of income, such as mining, fishing, and the production of other crops, will remain within average levels. The commerce and tourism sectors, as well as remittances, are sources of income that seasonally show an increase in August and, mainly, at the end of the year. This year, this behavior is expected to continue. Tourism activity, which has already reached pre-pandemic levels in El Salvador and Honduras, will show a slight improvement compared to the previous year, while remittances will continue reporting values above average, with Nicaragua leading the growth rate, which will mean an increase in the income of recipient households. Therefore, households whose livelihoods depend on these sectors will see a seasonal increase in their income, as well as with respect to the last two years.
    • Headline and food inflation rates will continue to slow down compared to the levels observed at the beginning of the year but will remain close to five and 10 percent, respectively, due to high production costs. Additionally, seasonal factors exacerbated by these results and market dynamics, such as speculation, will cause prices to persist above average for basic grains and, to a lesser extent, for other foods. Despite that a seasonal behavior of prices is expected, the delay in the output of the primera and postrera crops will cause a shift in the seasonal drop in prices in September and January, in addition to extending the annual season of food shortages by 15-30 days. Taking the above into account, maize prices for the three countries are expected to increase 31, 36, and 42 percent compared to the five-year average for Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, respectively, while the variation of red beans will be 79 percent in the three countries. In general, food prices are expected to remain high, making access difficult, mainly between June and September, before the season of high demand for labor.
    • During the period from June to September, the peak of the annual season of food shortages will be between June and August, when the poorest households depend totally on purchases for their food, while their purchasing power contracts seasonally. In addition, the delay in harvests will lengthen this period, especially in the Dry Corridor of Honduras and El Salvador. Therefore, households must resort to strategies such as informal borrowing, reduction in essential non-food expenses, as well as a decrease in the quality and quantity of food. The proportion of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will progressively increase during this period throughout the region, until reaching the area-level classification in the most affected parts of the Dry Corridor in Honduras and El Salvador. However, most poor rural households, including those in Nicaragua, where past and present shocks are expected to be less impacted, and the poorest in the region's urban areas, will show Severe food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2), as they have more options to cope with high prices and market dependency.
    • With the departure of the primera crops at the end of September, the availability of food will improve for producer households, and prices will decrease with the flow of fresh grain to the markets, improving the purchasing power of urban households and rural non-producers. A similar progression will take place in December with the output of the postrera harvest, when beans are the main crop. However, the reduction in the reserves of producer households, because of losses, will force them to depend atypically early on purchases to obtain food. At the same time, the increase in income from the sale of temporary rural labor, remittances, and jobs in tourism and commerce will support access to food. This positive change in the availability and purchasing power of households will allow most poor households in the region to improve their food security, with a transition towards Accentuated food insecurity (IPC Phase 2). However, there will still be pockets of households in the Dry Corridor in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) that, due to previous shocks, will not be able to offset the high costs of living without resorting to unsustainable coping strategies. These households will not reach the 20 percent necessary to modify the classification of the areas. Starting in January, at the end of the outlook period, the gradual decline in the demand for labor and in commercial and tourist activities, and the depletion of own production reserves, will cause an increase in households that are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • The hurricane season, which begins in June and ends on November 30, is expected to be close to the average for the Caribbean basin. However, since it is impossible to forecast the intensity and trajectory of tropical events, their constant monitoring will be necessary, since their occurrence has the potential to modify the scenario described above.

    For more information, please see the June 2023 Central America Remote Monitoring Report

     

    Venezuela

    • In the predominantly urban context of Venezuela, the unofficial dollarization of the economy has allowed better access and consumption of food for most households, since they generate at least part of their income in USD and almost half of the transactions in the country are made in USD. Although VED inflation continues, the loss in value of the VED against the USD has slowed due to the supply of foreign exchange improving economic conditions in Venezuela, although they remain fragile. In the coming months, the seasonal increase in income is expected to partially offset the impact of inflation, although inflation will continue to limit purchasing power. Households whose income comes from the private sector are not benefited from the Bono Against the Economic War, but they are included in the increase in the Cesta Ticket, benefiting the stability of their salaries in USD.
    • In addition, the rice and corn harvests will help supply the local market from August, despite the establishment of the El Niño phenomenon. Together, the vouchers, CLAP (especially in urban areas), wages, and remittances will cover the cost of food for poor rural and urban households. As a result, most will continue to be Severely Food Insecure (IPC Phase 2). However, households that receive salaries in VED and without access to the social protection system or remittances, especially in the Distrito Capital and the Zulia region, will present Crisis results (Phase 3, CIF) until September.
    • Between October and January, most rural and urban households that are employed in the private or public sector will receive double wages, which will improve purchasing power. The recent output of corn, rice, and vegetable crops improves the supply of markets and the availability of food in rural areas. During this period, the income from remittances and social programs increases seasonally, so most households will experience Accentuated food insecurity (IPC Phase 2). Poor households that receive their salaries in VED, which will deteriorate with inflation, and lack other sources of income or access to the CLAP monthly distribution, will benefit slightly from the seasonal improvements, but a proportion of them will continue to face Crisis results (IPC Phase 3) until January.

    For more information, please see the June 2023 Venezuela Remote Monitoring Report


    Events that might change the outlook
    Table 1
    Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario

    Zone

    Events

    Impact

    Regional

    Fuel, fertilizers, food and transportation prices increase beyond current projections

    Significant increases in the price of fuel, food, fertilizers, and transportation prices could cause additional increases along supply chains and further reduce
    access to food for the poorest households, increasing the population facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and, in Haiti, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    Regional

    Improvements or further deterioration of rainfall and temperature forecasts 

    Rainfall further below average than anticipated or temperatures higher than those anticipated would cause further reductions in yields and harvests, a higher dependency on the market, and increases in populations in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or, in Haiti, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Meanwhile, improvements in rainfall conditions to near-average would positively affect crops, as well as water availability for livestock, reducing the number of households experiencing acute food insecurity.

    Regional

    Hurricane or tropical storms

    The impact of a storm may cause impacts on population, infrastructure, crops, and access resulting in Accentuated or Crisis food security outcomes (IPC phase 2 and phase 3)

    Regional

    Expansion of food assistance programming

    Significant increases in food assistance would improve household-level outcomes for those receiving assistance and likely result in impacted areas reducing the severity of their classification from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!).

    Haiti

    Reduction in socio-political unrest/military intervention, following the dispatch of a multinational force

    The reduction in violence would have a positive impact on the functioning of the economy and markets, leading to a rapid recovery of formal and informal activities. This would improve food availability and access, reducing the number of households adopting negative strategies. As a result, fewer areas and households could be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In Cité Soleil, the situation would be likely to improve from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Haiti

    Normal distribution of fuel and its sale at normal prices throughout the country

    All companies and institutions, including hospitals, will resume their normal working hours. Lower transportation costs will help reduce inflation. As a result, fewer areas would be food insecure in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    Venezuela

    Reduction in the distribution of social benefits

    A reduction in the amount and frequency of Cesta Ticket and Bono against the economic war will directly affect access for the poorest households, resulting in an increase of population in Crisis (IPC phase 3).


    Seasonal calendar in a typical year
    Seasonal calendar in a typical year
    Seasonal calendar for the Central America and the Caribbean region

    Source: FEWS NET

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Latin America and the Caribbean Food Security Outlook. July 2023: Irregular weather disrupts the harvest in Central America, while Haiti continues to face gang violence that drives Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes. In Venezuela, low incomes continue to limit access to food. 2023. 

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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