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Seasonal improvements limited by high food prices

  • Key Message Update
  • Guatemala
  • November 2023
Seasonal improvements limited by high food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Areas of the Dry Corridor and southern Alta Verapaz will continue to be classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through May due to suffering consecutive impacts to their livelihoods. Seasonal benefits, such as increased income generated from agricultural work on commercial farms and increased household stocks of maize and beans from the primera harvest, are not sufficient to cover household food needs. The combination of high food prices, accumulated debts, and near-total losses of staple grain crops (caused by high temperatures and erratic rains due to El Niño) will restrict expected seasonal improvements during the high labor demand season. In addition, continued erratic rainfall could result in delayed planting and harvesting of postrera crops, prolonging household dependence on the market to meet food needs. To cover their basic diet, households will resort to negative coping strategies such as the migration of more household members to find work and the sale of assets. 
    • In the rest of the country, most areas will be classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until May. With primera staple grain harvests in near-average ranges, as well as increased household income from seasonal work, poor rural households will be able to moderately improve their diets and contribute to household savings even as seasonal rural employment wanes. However, diet quality will continue to be restricted by high food prices. Beginning in February, as seasonal employment opportunities are reduced and staple grain reserves dwindle, areas in the eastern and western highlands will be classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3). High food prices will result in the rapid use of newly acquired income, forcing poor households to prematurely use savings and incur debt to buy food. To meet basic food needs, households must engage in negative coping strategies, such as adjusting the amount of food consumed. 
    • In the coming months, rainfall and temperature will continue to be key factors in the development of crops and therefore the availability of basic grains. In mid-October, the cold front season began, bringing low temperatures nationwide and increased rainfall in the northern and Caribbean regions of the country. In mid-November, continuous heavy rains caused flooding and overflowing of rivers that affected the areas of Alta Verapaz, Izabal and Quiché, damaging homes and crops, and putting at risk the production of basic grains in the coming months. According to the national meteorological service (INSIVUMEH), cold fronts will persist until March. Typically, cold fronts generate rains in the north of the country. This weather could trigger heavy rains or floods that could damage the Postrera planting areas of subsistence farmers in the region. 
    • Typically, prices of basic grains begin to decline between September and October with the arrival of the Primera cycle harvests to the markets. However, in November corn and bean prices remained 70 and 64 percent, respectively, above the average of the last five years.  Staggered plantings, crop damage, and late harvesting delayed the expected price reduction. Prices are likely to remain high until the Primera harvest in 2024 (September/October), which will mainly impact poor households for whom maize is the basis of their diets. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Guatemala Key Message Update November 2023: Seasonal improvements limited by high food prices, 2023.

    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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