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Acute food insecurity likely to remain Minimal even with the lean season underway

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Nicaragua
  • May 2013
Acute food insecurity likely to remain Minimal even with the lean season underway

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • The lean season is ongoing through August and prices have started to seasonally rise, in particular white maize. Poor households are likely to reduce white maize consumption and increase their intake of other grains such as red beans due to low prices. 

    • Poor households will meet their needs due to average income and their food stocks are likely to last through May/Jun. Accessible food prices will continue through August when food access from the Primera harvest begins. Acute food insecurity will remain Minimal (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) through the end of the projection period, September 2013.

    • The Primera planting season will begin late May/early June. Most areas of the country will likely have normal rainfall distribution through July. Yields are likely to be average despite the anticipated canícula (July/August), as it is expected to be less dry than usual. However, below-average rainfall in June in the dry corridor area may impact final production yields in that area.

    • 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

    • Rainfall deficits in June in the dry corridor area.
    • Primera production yield 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; Jinotega prevalence level 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.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Farmers are preparing their land for the Primera planting season (late May/June) and the harvest is expected to begin in late August/September. This season’s main nationally produced crop is white maize (about 60 percent); second to this in more minor proportion are red and black beans. Own production from this season and the Postrera are highly important food sources for poor households. Casual labor, such as sowing and maintenance, during this season is available in medium to large scale farms. 

    Rainfall Forecast Projections from May to July by the Nicaraguan Meteorological Service suggest a normal start of the rainy season in mid-May and for most areas a most likely normal rainfall distribution through July. Between mid-July and mid-August, a less than usual dry spell will occur, yet with no major negative impact expected to crop development. Nonetheless, rainfalls deficits in localized areas are likely in June and could impact crop development, reducing final yields, particularly in the dry corridor. Close monitoring of rainfall and crop development is needed through the season to anticipate any impacts on poor households’ food access.

    Retail prices followed normal seasonal trends between March and April: starting to seasonally rise in April mainly for white maize and continue until the Primera harvest reaches markets, and then begin to seasonally decrease (September). Markets supplies are reported to be average. Good red bean production has maintained retail prices below last year and the five-year average unlike white maize prices, which are above (about 10 to 33 percent). Nonetheless, due to the low red bean prices, farmers and traders are hoarding until prices rise during the lean season. These low prices may influence farmers to plant more white maize instead of red beans in the Primera season and later reduce the planted area for the Postrera and Apante cycles. Meanwhile, poor households may reduce white maize consumption and increase consumption of other grains during the seasonal price peak.  

    The lean season is ongoing through August. Poor households will meet their needs during the lean season due to average income from the labor demand’s seasonal peak, casual labor, and accessible consumer prices. Food stocks from the 2012 Primera and Postrera harvest are expected to last through May/Jun. Poor households will have food access to the Primera harvest (Aug/Sept) and acute food insecurity will therefore remain Minimal (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) through the end of the projection period, September 2013.

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

    Coffee rust prevalence has remained two to three times higher than usual since late 2012. Nonetheless, updated data suggests that prevalence levels are four times higher than usual in Jinotega, the main production department. This level of damage will reduce the 2013/2014 harvest by at least 30 percent and consequently 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 Ministry of Agriculture has initiated training programs to technicians and farmers to minimize further impacts. As well, it is promoting propagation of coffee plants with rust resistance strains and is planning to establish an early warning system within the next three years. Providing credit to farmers is under review by national and international financial sources, although it hasn’t yet been approved. Local coffee associations are also using greenhouses to reseed coffee plantations. With the start of the rainy season (May/June), favorable conditions for proliferation of fungi and diseases can occur. Therefore, close monitoring of the plantations and normal preventive agricultural measures are needed.

    Currently poor households in coffee areas during the lean season are able to meet their needs due to average income and accessible consumer prices. As well, casual labor is still available at nearby medium to large farms. Therefore rust damages are unlikely to result in a widespread of acute food insecurity through the projection period, but gradually these 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 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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