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Food prices remain accessible through the lean season as food reserves are ending

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Nicaragua
  • July 2013
Food prices remain accessible through the lean season as food reserves are ending

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • An expected average Primera harvest starting in August/September will allow poor households to maintain their Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least December, the end of the projection period. Poor households will still be able to meet their needs through the lean season as food reserves are ending. 

    • Rainfall deficits in the dry corridor in June may impact crop development and final yields, yet crops are more likely to be affected if deficits continue through July/August. Despite the late start and initial below-average rainfall, rainfall has been average to date in the rest of the country. 

    • Coffee rust prevalence will reduce production, and consequently, labor demand and wages by at least 30 percent during the next harvest (October 2013 to March 2014). Impacts will be minimized by households’ ability to draw on diverse income sources to compensate for anticipated losses, although access to food is still likely to be reduced in the following consumption year. 




    Dry corridor (Livelihood zones 3 and 4)

    • Soil humidity levels are stressed in some areas.
    • Primera production may be reduced.

    Coffee-producing areas (Livelihood zones 12 and 13)

    • Coffee rust prevalence is two to three times higher than usual. In Jinotega prevalence is four times higher.


    • Coffee harvest will be reduced by 30 percent during the next harvest (2013/2014).
    • Household-level income from coffee harvesting will decline by 30 percent (October 2013 – March 2014).

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    Even though the rainy season was delayed 10 to 20 days and rainfall estimates during May were below average, no major crop damage has been reported due to the regular rainfall to date. The satellite rainfall estimates indicate rain has been average across the country, resulting in satisfactory soil water levels according to the water requirement model for most areas. The Nicaraguan Meteorological Service’s forecast indicated rainfall deficits in the dry corridor (Livelihood 3 and 4) along with the presence of soil stress levels (in Madriz, Nueva Segovia, Matagalpa, and Jinotega departments) during June.

    The Primera season’s main production is white maize and in lesser quantities red and black beans. To date, normal crop development supports the official estimates that national planting is slightly above last year and therefore production will be above last year’s near-average production. Reduced yields in these areas are not anticipated, yet rainfall in the upcoming weeks is highly needed for adequate crop development. No major negative effects are estimated in July despite the anticipated dry spell since is expected to be less dry than usual. Close monitoring is needed to anticipate any impact on poor households’ access to food in the dry corridor.

    Casual labor, specifically maintenance activities, for medium to large scale farms is available. The Postrera season will be begin planting in August/September and a normal harvest is expected in December 2013/early January 2014.

    Retail white maize prices seasonally rose in June, although prices still remain higher than in June 2012 and the five-year average. Red beans atypically remained stable and even slightly decreased in June, maintaining unusually low prices below last year (e.g., 38 percent below for the León market) and the five-year average. Supplies of both commodities in all markets are reported to be adequate. Seasonally increasing, above-average white maize prices (until September when prices decline with the Primera harvest) alongside low red beans prices may lead farmers to reduce planted areas in the upcoming seasons (Postrera and Apante). Red beans prices are likely to remain low and affordable throughout the projection period, unlike white maize. Poor, market-dependant households are therefore likely to decrease white maize consumption and increase red bean consumption.

    The lean season is ongoing through August. Food stocks have been depleted in most poor households and these households become market dependent. They will be meeting their needs as usual during the season through average income from casual labor and accessible consumer prices. Additional activities to obtain income, such as collecting and selling wood, are done by poor households. Municipalities in the dry corridor, which are parts of the coffee producing areas as well, are providing take-home rations in exchange for labor. The Primera and Postrera harvests will begin in August/September and December/early January 2014, respectively, and improve access to food for own consumption and market supply. Therefore, acute food insecurity will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through the projection period, December 2013.

    Coffee-producing areas of Matagalpa, Jinotega, Madriz, Nueva Segovia and Estelí (Livelihood zones 12 and 13)

    Coffee rust prevalence is two to three times higher than usual since late 2012 and since May four times higher in Jinotega, the highest production department. Updated estimates suggest that the 2013/2014 harvest will produce 1.1 to 1.3 million quintales (equivalent to 50,000 to 58,000 MT), nearly 30 percent less than 2012/2013 harvest and 40 to 50 percent below 2011/2012 harvest unaffected by rust. Consequently, labor demand and wages for the 2013/2014 harvest will decline at least 30 percent as compared to 2012/2013.

    Poor households are meeting their needs through the ongoing lean season and access to food will increase from the Primera and Postrera harvest. The decline in labor demand and wages in 2013/2014 harvest will gradually impact poor households’ income and food sources in the following consumption year, therefore relying more on other sources, such as other casual agricultural labor, livestock sales, small-scale commerce, etc. National and regional programs including use of pesticides, financial subsidies, and job creation programs, among others, are underway to mitigate impacts on production and households (Coffee sector shocks and projected food security impacts in Central America).

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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