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Significant Primera maize losses in the eastern dry corridor strain livelihoods

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Guatemala
  • September 2013
Significant Primera maize losses in the eastern dry corridor strain livelihoods

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Some poor smallholder farmers in the eastern dry corridor will be affected by 60 to 100 percent losses in maize production from the Primera season. These households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the next harvest in November.

    • Households in western areas of the dry corridor affected by the 2012 and/or 2013 dry spell will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the labor season begins in October and the next harvest in November/December is underway. 

    • The rest of the country will experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) through November, when the Postrera harvest begins.


    Current Situation
    • According to the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA), the Primera harvest has started and is well underway. National staple grain production is expected to be within normal range and prices are stable and expected to seasonally decrease, when the larger part of Primera is harvested throughout September.
    • The current lean season will end in September in most of the country with the Primera harvest, with the exception of the dry corridor.
    • According to MAGA, 31,224 households were affected by the extended dry spell in July and August during the Primera season. Eighty-seven percent of the affected households live in El Progreso, Zacapa, Chiquimula, and Baja Verapaz in the eastern dry corridor. Poor smallholder farmers in this area lost 60 to 100 percent of their maize harvest, according to FEWS NET. These losses will diminish food stocks and reduce income for both poor and very poor households in the region.
    • In the western highlands, where the sole annual harvest will occur in November/December, losses have not yet been estimated.  
    • Coffee production in 2012/13 will not be as severely affected by the coffee rust as foreseen, according to the national coffee association, Anacafé. Production will suffer an approximate 15 percent decrease compared to 2011/12. Production in 2013/14 will depend on whether producers will fumigate against coffee rust and fertilize their plantations. To date, farmers have been able to fumigate the first round, but experience difficulties finding financing for the second and third rounds. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for the period from July through December 2013 have changed as follows:

    • Unusually prolonged dry conditions between June and August have affected the Primera maize harvest for communities in the eastern part of the country. Households are at risk of losing a significant portion of their production beginning in September.

    Projected Outlook through December 2013
    • As the Primera harvest begins in August/September, the lean season will end in most of the country. Food availability will improve and prices become more accessible. Poor farmers will harvest and be able to set aside food reserves. Given that October is the start of the annual period of high demand for unskilled labor, households are expected to meet short-term food needs. Therefore, Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected in most of the country.
    • Poor farmers in the eastern part of the country, affected by the dry spell in July and August are expected to lose 60 to 100 percent of their Primera maize harvest. Their lean season will not end in August as usual, but more likely in November, with the Postrera harvest. This situation is expected to increase food insecurity, compounding the impact of the 2012 dry spell and the reduction in demand for day labor for the coffee harvest. El Progreso, Zacapa, Chiquimula, and Baja Verapaz are the most affected areas.
    • Ministry of Health data shows an average 13 percent increase in the number of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2013 as of August 24. SAM rates are historically highest in the east and south, consistent with the areas affected by the dry spell. In these areas, SAM rates could continue increasing, rather than typically ceasing in August, when poor smallholder farmers harvest their maize and prices start decreasing, resulting in improved access. Therefore, as from August, these areas continue to be classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until their Postrera harvest in November.
    • Poor smallholder farmers in the temperate highlands were also affected by the dry spell in July and August. Their lean period will not seasonally end with the next harvest in November/December for these households, and they will therefore be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) starting in November. There is a large degree of overlap between these households and those affected by the 2012 dry spell. 
    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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