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May rains help Primera crops

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Guatemala
  • May 2013
May rains help Primera crops

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • To date, there has been adequate rainfall for agricultural activities, particularly in the western areas (occidente) of the country where the planting of Primera maize crops is already underway. The harvest for these crops is crucial, both to offset previous crop failures in this region and to improve the food security situation in the latter part of the year.

    • The low prices of staple grains have helped households gain better grain access through market purchase, fostering the use of these crops over the next few months when seasonal prices will start to rise.

    • Virtually all parts of the country will experience Minimal food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) between now and September. Yet, households who lost crops as a result of last year’s extended dry spell in temperate altiplano areas, will maintain Stressed (Phase 2, IPC 2.0) food security outcomes until the next harvest at the end of this year.

    Current Situation
    • Recent reports by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock-Raising (MAGA) show wholesale prices for white maize slightly decreasing between March and April. The drop in prices was even more pronounced compared to previous years. This trend in prices is the result of a continuing flow of crops from the good harvest in the northern part of the country. Black bean prices are up slightly compared to March as it is the end of the harvest in the north. Maize prices are below the five-year average after a good harvest early this year.
    • With the seasonal rise in prices starting, the marketing of maize crops coming from Mexico (stored in Guatemala) began in April. This grain is used to regulate domestic market dynamics by boosting supplies during the low local production period.
    • According to updated field reports by FAO, as of May 3 there were still staple grain reserves in all parts of the country due to the good market prices for staple crops. Households are choosing to take advantage of these good prices to buy grain and hold onto own production inventories for future consumption once seasonal prices begin to rise.
    • There was a slight delay in the start of rains in the southern part of the country at the end of April. However, the increase in rainfall activity since the beginning of May has helped improve soil moisture conditions. Planting activities for Primera maize crops are expected to get underway in the first half of May in the east. The May rains also improved conditions for maize crops planted in parts of Huehuetenango, Quiché, Sololá, Totonicapán, and Quetzaltenango departments beginning in April. However, the hail reported in parts of Quiché destroyed some small producers’ crops. Even though farmers are still within the window of time to replant crops, it is uncertain whether they will, as it would increase their production costs. INSIVUMEH (the Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology, and Hydrology Center) expects the rains to become well-established in May starting in the Pacific area and by the beginning of June in the northern areas of the country.
    • The government’s cash transfer strategy for migrant populations through the program to create community-based temporary jobs (GETCo), which was designed to offset reductions in income as a result of the damage to coffee plantations from the rust outbreak, is scheduled to start up in July.
    • MAGA is planning to distribute fungicide to small-scale coffee growers as a way to control the spread of the coffee rust fungus. These distributions will be accompanied by technical assistance services to ensure its proper application and the corresponding proper safety measures. Even though the procurement is already underway, efforts to distribute the fungicide to a target group of at least 68,000 small farmers have not yet gotten started. The first application of this product must be carried out in May, at the beginning of the rainy season, in order to ensure its effectiveness. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2013. A full discussion of this scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for Guatemala for April through September 2013.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    There will be a slight but steady deterioration in food security outcomes in all areas of the country as is typical during the annual lean season, followed by an improvement with the onset of the Primera harvest in August/September. The depletion of grain reserves from the last harvest and the reduction of employment options with the end of the peak demand period for unskilled labor mark the beginning of the lean season for very poor and poor households. There is limited food availability and food access at this time of year, especially in a year marked by lower than usual levels of income-generation from the coffee harvest. Implementation of the government’s temporary jobs program would improve income sources for these households and, thus, their food access at a time when they are dependent on market purchase. Virtually all parts of the country, with the exception of areas most affected by crop losses from last year’s extended dry spell, should experience Minimal acute food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) between April and September. Conditions in the affected areas will continue to be classified as Stressed (Phase 2, IPC 2.0) until the next harvest at the end of the year, at which time the food security situation should improve.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    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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