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Primera season production is now underway in all areas of the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Guatemala
  • June 2012
Primera season production is now underway in all areas of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Food Security Outlook Update through September 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Primera season planting has now begun in virtually all areas of the country, with reports indicating good growth status for most crops. The harvest period for this season is projected to take place between August and September, when the lean season ends.

    • White maize prices have decreased considerably compared to last year, but are still above average. The price of black beans, however, has slightly increased, in line with seasonal trends. 

    • The canícula this year is expected to begin in mid-July, with the potential to affect yields of first-cycle crops. In addition, there is a 50 percent likelihood that the El Niño phenomenon, projected to occur during the last half of the year, could present a risk to second production cycle crops, as a result of reduced rainfall.


    Food Security Outlook Update through September 2012

    The rainy season is now fully established in the entire country, marking the beginning of the primera season, during which maize is principally grown. According to field reports gathered by FEWS NET partners, primera planting took place in almost all regions of the country during May and, in some cases, in early June. Planting has not yet begun, however, in the department of Petén and in some areas of Alta Verapaz. Since rainfall has been normal in recent weeks, crop growth is proceeding as projected, with the exception of some areas of Baja Verapaz and Retalhuleu, where reports point to stress resulting from farmers’ decisions to plant their crops early.

    Delivery of government-subsidized fertilizer has not been completed, despite the clearly defined initial timeline for this activity. Although fertilizer was delivered in some municipalities, more than half of the supply has yet to be distributed. Areas of the altiplano, which have only a single productive cycle and where planting took place between late April and early May, will not benefit from any fertilizer distributed this late. In addition, given the low purchasing power of subsistence farmers in these areas, it is highly unlikely that they would have purchased fertilizer. This lack of fertilizer reduces crop yield, which in turn translates into lower availability of grain for household reserves. Farmers in the eastern region, however, purchased their own fertilizer after failing to receive subsidies, although they bought less than what would have been required. 

    The quarterly weather outlook issued by the national weather service within the framework of the Central American Climate Forum, calls for heavy rainfall during the month of June, which will favor crop growth. However, the forecast for July calls for a clearly defined canícula to begin on June 10, without ruling out the possibility that even during that month, which is generally characterized by adequate rainfall, precipitation could be insufficient. Based on planting dates and the crop growth period, crops will be in the flowering and fruit-bearing stages during the middle dekad of July (with the exception of crops in the altiplano). The availability of sufficient water during these periods of crop growth is essential if good yields are to be obtained. A sharply defined canícula that is drier than normal could end up reducing water availability, and with it the harvest brought in at the conclusion of the first production cycle. The implications of such a reduction will be reflected in lower than normal reserves in subsistence farmer households, which will in turn mean that, beginning in October, these reserves will not last as long as they usually do. However, the annual food shortage season will effectively conclude between August and September once this crop has been brought in.

    According to the update provided by experts from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), there is a 50 percent likelihood of El Niño conditions over the next six months. If this occurs, rainfall during the latter half of the rainy season could be below average, which could lead to crop damage and even complete losses of second-cycle crops, particularly in the case of maize. It is therefore essential that National Weather Service reports be monitored. 

    The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season officially began on June 1, while the counterpart season in the eastern Pacific began on May 15, with the formation of at least two tropical events in each body of water. The NOAA forecast for both seasons calls for normal activity. This translates into a less active season in the Atlantic as compared to recent years, with projections calling for between nine and 15 named storms, of which between four and eight could reach hurricane strength, and with one to three of the latter having the potential to become major hurricanes (categories 3-5 on the SaffirSimpson scale). In addition, if El Niño does develop as projected, experts project that although conditions will be less favorable for the formation of hurricanes, the latter portion of the season (August-October) could see increased activity. Lower than normal hurricane activity in either of the two oceans does not necessarily mean that the country will not be affected, either directly or indirectly, by a tropical event of one kind or another. Accordingly, it is important that national weather service reports be closely monitored.

    Prices of white maize decreased in May, as a result of the influx of white maize from crops harvested in the northern region of the country. As this influx begins to subside, however, prices will begin to increase seasonally. In the case of black beans, price increases have been reported beginning in May at both the wholesale and consumer levels. This is a result of the fact that supplies of recently harvested black beans have now been exhausted and the national market has begun to make available supplies from stored reserves. The consumer price for white maize as of June 13 was 21.5 percent lower than the price prevailing at the same time last year, while the price paid by wholesalers was 34.05 percent lower for the same period. On the other hand, the consumer price of beans has not varied significantly with respect to the previous year, with an increase of 2.39 percent observed in wholesale prices for the same period. Prices for both staples are still above the fiveyear average.

    According to information received by FEWS NET, there is no flow of cereal grains at this time, either to or from Mexico, by way of the Transverse Strip, since availability in the national market is adequate and prices are not attractive to Mexican merchants. Field information gathered by the FAO, however, indicates that cereal grains are in fact flowing from Mexico into the northern and western regions of Guatemala. This flow of grains is normal during this season and helps to regulate market prices.

    Coffee will be harvested between September 2012 and April 2013, depending on the altitude in the country’s various coffee-growing regions. The current dip in international prices has the potential to discourage on-farm investments. According to experts, however, US$160 (per 100 lbs of fully milled coffee) is still a price that will allow investments to be made, as a result of which no major crop reduction is forecast at the present time, nor in the number of worker-days to be contracted out, since both figures would be within the ranges observed over the past eight-year period. The influence of climatic factors is another variable that will require close monitoring, since at the conclusion of the coffee-growing season such factors could be more influential than international prices on the amount of coffee produced. 

    The classification of households indicated in the April Outlook through December remains unchanged. 

     

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.

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