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Seasonal improvements insufficient to offset high food prices

  • Key Message Update
  • Guatemala
  • January 2023
Seasonal improvements insufficient to offset high food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In localized areas of the eastern Dry Corridor, western Altiplano, and Alta Verapaz, employment and income from the coffee and cardamom harvests have not compensated for high prices, leaving rural households to resort to negative coping strategies. Households are immediately using their income to pay off debt and purchase food, but are unable to recover livelihoods, save, or avoid selling productive assets or accumulating new debt. This will result in a premature start of the annual lean season and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May. However, the majority of households in the rest of the country will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May, given that, although the availability of, and access to, food have improved, high prices of the main basket of food are reducing these seasonal improvements.

    • In the western Altiplano, the only cycle of maize cultivation has come to an end with lower-than-normal harvests for poor households. The high price of agricultural inputs mainly caused this reduction, as households used less fertilizer or reduced cropped area in response. In some localized areas, rain damage early in the development cycle, wind, and pests also affected crops. Households will have to resort to buying maize on the market earlier than normal, as reserves will be below average – as low as half the usual harvest for the poorest households.

    • Markets are well-supplied with national and imported maize. However, the recent maize and bean harvests of the postrera cycle did not generate the expected seasonal decline in prices. Instead, the average prices per quintal (100 lbs) of maize and beans showed stability in December, compared to the previous month. Maize was still 32 and 62 percent above last year and the five-year average, respectively, while beans showed a 16 percent increase over last year and a 38 percent increase compared to the five-year average. Annual inflation rates ended the year in December at 9.24 percent, the highest for the month of December during the period of 2015-2021. The largest increases were noted in transportation and food expenses.  

    • Regarding the weather, INSIVUMEH forecast 12 to 17 cold fronts between December 2022 and March 2023. The presence of cold fronts could cause scattered and isolated rains on the Caribbean side of the country, while the low temperatures could damage tuber, vegetable, and fruit crops, mainly in the higher elevation areas in the west. However, a significant impact on household food security is not expected.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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