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Food reserves gradually depleting, yet food prices remain accessible through the lean season

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Nicaragua
  • June 2013
Food reserves gradually depleting, yet food prices remain accessible through the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Poor households’ food stocks are starting to be depleted, mainly in the dry corridor, nonetheless they will able to meet their needs despite the ongoing lean season. Therefore, acute food insecurity is likely to remain Minimal (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) through the end of the projection period, September 2013.

    • The late start of the rainy season and the expected rainfall deficits in June in the dry corridor may negatively impact crop development and expected yields. Other areas of the country are likely to experience normal rainfall distribution through the rest of the season. 

    • Coffee rust prevalence will reduce production and labor demand and wages by at least 30 percent during the next harvest (October 2013 – March 2014).

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • Late start of the rainy season.
    • Rainfall deficits in June in the dry corridor.
    • Primera production may be reduced in the dry corridor.

    Coffee-producing areas (Livelihood 12 and 13)

    • Coffee rust prevalence is two to three times higher than usual in general (four times higher in Jinotega).

     

    • 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.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Farmers have begun planting for the Primera season, mainly white maize crops and in lesser quantities red and black beans. Vegetative growth has begun in areas planted in late May, principally in the north. Yet, most farmers prolonged planting due to the late start of the rainy season and their crops will develop the initial vegetative stages in June. Medium to large scale farms are offering casual labor for sowing and initial maintenance activities so income sources are stable. Own production from this season and the Postrera are highly important food sources for poor households.

    The rainy season has been established, although satellite rainfall estimates indicate rainfall for May was below average in most areas of the country. The start of season was 10 to 20 days delayed, yet heavy rainfall in late May improved soil humidity according to the water requirement model. The Nicaraguan Meteorological Service’s forecast indicates rainfall deficits in localized areas in June, mainly occurring in drier areas (Madriz, Nueva Segovia, Matagalpa and Jinotega). This, along with the late start of the rainy season, could negatively impact crop development, predominantly for white maize, and reduce final yields. Close monitoring is needed to anticipate any impact on poor households’ food access. No major negative effects are estimated in July despite the anticipated dry spell, as rainfall is likely to have a normal distribution.

    Between April and May, red beans and white maize retail prices were unusually stable according to the season, as prices typically rise through August. White maize retail prices are higher than last year and the five-year average (about 15 to 25 percent, respectively). Even though markets reported having sufficient stocks of white maize to meet demand, farmers have indicated low levels of stocks. Therefore, market stocks may reduce in the upcoming months. Retail prices will likely then rise through August following the normal trend and within normal range. Good red bean production continues to keep prices below last year and the five-year average (about 16 to 31 percent, respectively). If low prices continue, farmers are suggesting a below-average area planted of red beans in the current and upcoming seasons (Postrera and Apante). The supply of red beans is estimated to be double the demand for the rest of the consumption year and therefore would unlikely following any significant seasonal rise in prices. These low prices of red beans are favorable for poor households whom are highly dependent of purchases to meet their needs during this season as normally.

    The lean season is ongoing though August. Poor households’ food stocks from 2012 Primera and Postrera cycles are starting to be depleted, mainly in areas of the dry corridor, yet food reserves in most poor households will last until June. Through August, poor households will be meeting their needs due to the remaining food stocks, average income from casual labor and accessible consumer prices. Food access from the Primera harvest will start in Aug/Sept, therefore poor households will remain in Minimal (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) acute food insecurity through the projection period, September 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. Consequently, the 2013/2014 harvest will decline by at least 30 percent and thus labor demand and wages as well, as compared to the 2011/2012 levels that were unaffected by rust. Small farmers, including those in the highlands, whose income options are less diverse and depend heavily on the coffee harvest and labor, are at risk of food insecurity due to this shock.

    The Nicaraguan government has prepared a 7-year program to minimize the negative effects of the coffee rust and improve coffee production, in addition to the current training programs and activities directed to reduce rust vulnerability by national and non-governmental organizations. Providing credit to farmers is still under review by national and international financial institutions.

    Poor households in coffee producing areas are meeting their needs during the ongoing lean season and food access from the Primera harvest will begin in Aug/Sept. A decline in labor demand and wages is unlikely to result in any widespread acute food insecurity through the projection period, but gradually affected households will become more dependent on other sources of income and food. (See the Coffee sector shocks and projected food security impacts in Central America).

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for 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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