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Lean season starts in Haiti and Guatemala

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • March - September 2020
Lean season starts in Haiti and Guatemala

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In Haiti, poor and very poor households continue to engage in crisis and stress coping strategies. Most areas are therefore facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stress (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes. Livelihoods remain disrupted due to high food price and the negative effects of the socio-political crisis. The Spring harvest starting in June and the expected stabilization of the inflation are expected to improve food security outcomes from June to September 2020.

    • The socio-political situation remains unpredictable in Haiti, despite the return to normal of most economic activities. Markets are supplied with mostly imported food. Staple food prices are stable or decreasing relative to the previous month but remain significantly above average. The Haitian gourde has remained stable against the USD for several months. Even in areas where they succeeded, fall and winter harvests could not make up for the below average Spring harvest of 2019.

    • In the Dry Corridor of Central America, very poor households who faced recurrent droughts and have currently depleted their basic grains stocks are depending on food purchases earlier than normal are engaging in negative coping strategies. An increasing number of households will be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes, particularly in Guatemala. Other affected households will be in Stress (IPC Phase 2) in the rest of the region.

    • In Central America, markets are supplied with beans from the Postrera harvest and carryover stocks from the Primera. Maize prices were above average while bean prices were below average, following seasonality. Neutral ENSO conditions provide a forecast for a normal start of the rainy season, average cumulated rainfall and an average Primera crop cycle is the most likely.In Central America, the high demand for casual labor has begun, temporarily improving food access. However, poor households who faced losses in Primera harvest with reduced labor opportunities and limited stocks will be in Stress (IPC Phase 2) and those engaging in negative coping strategies will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).



    • Despite the resumption of most economic activities to near normal levels, the socio-political climate remains unpredictable and fragile. The operating environment of the Parliament and insecurity, among other factors, creates uncertainty, which still risks disrupting the calm observed for more than three months. In the event of renewed civil unrest, similar to that seen in 2019, household access to food and income would be more significant impacted. However, based on recent calm, broad stability is expected through at least September.
    • Rainfall deficits during the 2019 second rainy season contribute to lower than average yields of the currently harvested winter bean season in the Nord-Est, Nord, Nippes, Nord-Ouest, and in some municipalities in Ouest departments. However, the harvest is closer to average in the Greater South of the country (with the exception of Nippes) and Artibonite, where beans, maize, peanuts, rice and market garden produce are currently being harvested, in addition to the harvest of bananas and roots. The availability of these foods is driving some improvements in food security. 
    • Despite these improvements, high prices of basic food products, persistently low employment opportunities, and the negative effects of the socio-political crisis more broadly are all negatively impacting many poor households’ ability to sufficiently access their food and non-food needs. In areas of greatest concern, including those in which production is likely to be below average and income-earning opportunities are low, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are anticipated through September 2020.


    • In most of the country, recent harvests of basic grains and income from the season of peak demand for unskilled labor will allow poor households to build up food stocks and savings to purchase food and supplies for the next planting cycle.
    • For the poorest households in the dry corridor, reduced or non-existent stocks of basic grains, accelerated spending of income and the impossibility of saving money for the lean season will trigger early reliance on food purchases and the adoption of negative coping strategies, leading to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from May, after a few months of improved food consumption.
    • Neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions and the forecast of a normal (and even early in some areas of the country) start will allow timely Primera planting and adequate crop growth.

    Remote monitoring countries: El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua

    • 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.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Increased socio-political unrest

    The escalation of violence would likely disrupt the current functioning of the economy and markets. This would lead to a decrease in food availability and access, forcing more households to adopt negative coping strategies. As certain coping strategies are depleted, food consumption deficits could appear. Thus, more areas and households could be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Substantial improvement in the socio-political situation

    The potential for socio-political stability, with the establishment of a consensus government, could strengthen trade flows and market supplies. Sources of income should also return to normal. This would reduce the number of people and areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Early end to rains

    An abrupt end to the rainy season at a critical phase of development for spring crops (rice, maize, beans) and at the beginning of the summer season could lead to significant crop losses and damage to the livelihoods of the poorest households. This would increase the number of people and areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Food assistance during the period

    This could improve outcomes, meaning areas classified as IPC Phase 3 could move to IPC Phase 2!

    Figures Calendario estacional para un año típico 
en América Central a partir de julio, que muestra el inicio y final de cada tempor

    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    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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