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Slight improvement in the availability of staple grains limited by high prices

  • Key Message Update
  • Guatemala
  • January 2024
Slight improvement in the availability of staple grains limited by high prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Following various climatic and economic shocks over the last four years, poor households located in the Dry Corridor, Alta Verapaz and Altiplano regions continue to face constraints in acquiring staple foods. Due to an early onset of reliance on the market to purchase food, combined with a lack of savings, households in these regions will resort to negative coping strategies, such as decreasing the frequency of meals and the quantity of food consumed to meet their basic food needs. These areas will be classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), at least until May. In 2023, crop damage caused by high temperatures and erratic rains resulted in partial or even total losses of staple grain production for subsistence farmers. Without adequate harvests, subsistence households had to purchase, earlier in the year than usual, maize and beans at the market at very high prices. In addition, income earned during the season of high labor demand was quickly spent on debt repayment and food purchases.
    • In the rest of the country, most rural households will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, although they still have some reserves of basic grains from their own harvest and savings, high food prices will continue restrict ability to purchase food. This will force households to resort to negative coping strategies such as lowering the quality of the diet to meet basic food needs.
    • Late postrera crops (typically harvested between February and April) currently show a variety of stages of development due to delayed planting caused by erratic rains and above-average temperatures during the second rainy season (mid-August through October). Later in the year, the drop in temperatures, characteristic of the cold front season (November to February), affected bean, potato and other vegetable crops in Huehuetenango, Quiché, Sololá and the Western Altiplano, which could negatively impact expected yields. According to the national meteorological service (INSIVUMEH), the cold front season will end in March, a month later than normal, extending the probability of frost damage. Meanwhile, in targeted areas of the Northern Transversal Strip, erratic rainfall in November and December damaged some maize crops. 
    • Despite a slowdown in inflation, food and fuel costs remain high. The slight reduction in overall inflation in December did not signify an improvement in household purchasing power, as the cost of the basic food basket increased 0.13 percent from November to December. Maize and bean harvests from the primera and postrera cycles continue to supply markets, improving availability, but at high prices that have not shown the usual seasonal reduction in the post-harvest period. Although bean prices remain stable and maize prices showed a slight reduction between November and December 2023, they remain 56 and 36 percent above the five-year average, respectively. Gasoline and diesel prices remain 9 and 23 percent above the five-year average, impacting the cost of freight transportation. Crop losses, staggered harvests, as well as high production and transportation costs, are responsible for the persistently high prices of basic grains.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Guatemala Key Message Update January 2024: Slight improvement in the availability of staple grains limited by high prices, 2024.

    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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