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Rainfall anomalies cause localized damage in the Primera and risk of damage to Postrera crops

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • August 2016
Rainfall anomalies cause localized damage in the Primera and risk of damage to Postrera crops

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  • Key Messages
  • Climate outlook
  • Staple production and markets
  • Coffee sector
  • Flooding in Nicaragua
  • Projected regional outlook through January 2017
  • Key Messages
    • In Honduras, very poor households in southern and southwestern areas of the country will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until October, due to consecutive years of drought-induced damage to their crops. Small coffee producers and households dependent on labor in the coffee sector who are still affected by the coffee rust outbreak in recent years will also be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until October. These households will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October through at least January 2017, due to the availability of own produced staples and increased income-generating opportunities.

    • Despite suffering rainfall anomalies and coffee rust infestation, food security area outcomes in the worst-off areas of eastern and western El Salvador and the Northern Pacific and North-Central regions of Nicaragua are currently classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2), due to the better living conditions and employment opportunities in these areas. While food security outcomes will improve by October with staple harvests and the seasonal increase in employment opportunities, some areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • The drop in coffee prices before the 2015/2016 harvest was followed by a slight improvement in the last few months. Average prices for August 2016 were eight percent above figures for the same month last year. However, the current price of USD 1.33/pound (based on the ICO composite indicator) is still below those registered during the October 2014 - March 2015 harvest.









    • Anomalies in the distribution of rainfall and pests are affecting staple-producing areas across the region.
    • Atypical stabilization of red bean prices and increases in white maize prices.

    ·    Average to above-average cumulative rainfall, with localized flooding in low-lying watersheds and above-normal temperatures.

    ·    An increase in white maize prices to levels above the five-year average is expected between August and September.   

    ·    Heavy rainfall in the second part of the rainy season could put bean production at risk during the Postrera planting period, and could lead to conditions conducive to the spread of coffee rust and other coffee pests and diseases.  

    Climate outlook

    By the end of May, the first rainy season was fully established in most of the region. Crops were planted at different times, such that in some areas they are physiologically mature, while in others they are in their vegetative growth or early reproductive stages. However, based on the erratic distribution of rainfall and rainfall deficits (Figure 1), there is likely already crop damage or crop losses in certain areas.

    According to the ENSO forecast published by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) in the middle of August, there is a 54 percent probability for the development of La Niña conditions during the September to November period. The probability of La Niña conditions steadily increases to 58 percent between November and January and stays above 50 percent through the first quarter of 2017. Analyses by regional meteorological services are predicting average to above-average rainfall for the Postrera season (September - November). The predicted increased rainfall activity raises the possibility of better harvests of Postrera crops, but does not rule out the risk of damage to Postrera bean crops from the development of conducive conditions for the proliferation of fungal diseases in their early developmental stages. There is also the continued likelihood of a higher incidence of coffee rust disease and other coffee pests and diseases.

    Staple production and markets

    Honduras: According to the latest agrometeorological report, maize crops are generally developing normally throughout the country, owing to the good climatic conditions throughout the various stages of the growth cycle (flowering, cob and grain formation stages). Bean crops in the high-production areas of Lempira, Ocotepeque, Santa Bárbara, Olancho, and El Paraíso are at optimal developmental stages, with these same climatic conditions supporting their growth.

    Based on preliminary data, rainfall anomalies, high temperatures, and the proliferation of crop pests have affected production areas of southern Honduras, with reports of damage to crops in the municipalities of Cane, San Pedro de Tutule, Santa Maria, San Juan, San Antonio del Norte, Aguanqueterique, Mercedez de Oriente, and Launterique in La Paz department. Over 13 percent of the crops planted in this department are already lost, and there could be other affected subsistence farming areas.

    For the 2016 Primera season, approximately 4,600 quintals of staple seeds (basic, registered, and certified) were distributed through various projects (the Bono de Solidaridad Productiva (BSP), WFP/DICTA Biofortificados, and DICTA Andalucía projects) to promote national staple production, which helped farmers adapt to the rainfall anomalies.  

    El Salvador: The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) will deliver 200,000 packages of improved bean seeds to small staple producers during the month of August for the planting of Postrera crops. The bean seeds will be distributed to farmers across the country through 29 distribution centers in a coordinated effort by MAG and departmental governments. Each package contains 25 pounds of CENTA Pipil, Costeño, San Andrés, and Chaparrastique varieties of improved bean seeds for the planting of just under half an acre (a quarter of a “manzana”) in bean crops. This operation is in keeping with the government’s food and nutritional security priorities under its strategic “Agricultura para el Buen Vivir” (Farming for the Good Life) plan.

    Nicaragua: Information from the Association of Farmers and Exporters of Nicaragua (APEN) is currently expecting an increase in prices for black beans due to reduced production. Meanwhile, there have been no reports of weather-related losses to black beans in major production areas. In the case of red beans, there are good production prospects for the current growing season in all parts of the country, and current market supply of high-quality red beans is adequate. Bean prices are currently below the five-year average (NIO 920/quintal for black beans; NIO 1,000/quintal for red beans). According to press releases, the government is expecting strong national-level bean production. Based on government estimates, bean production for this season could reach 4.4 million quintals, with Primera harvests expected to begin at the end of August, which will cause prices to fall.

    Staple prices across the region

    Red bean prices have followed normal seasonal trends, remaining stable due to good market supply. However, this could change with the possible surge in market demand in Costa Rica and Brazil, where production deficits are liable to increase demand for regional production.

    Coffee sector



    Honduras: As of August 10, 2016, total exports from the 2015/2016 harvest were at 6.33 million bags (46 KG), which is very similar to the volume of exports reported at the same time last season. However, the value of these exports is USD 798 million, which is 19 percent less than the USD 996 million in exports for the 2014/2015 season by this same time. Thus far, the average value of coffee exports is USD 125.89, compared with an average price of USD 161.11 in 2014/2015, which is equivalent to a 21 percent drop in price.

    El Salvador: As of July 2016, there were 539,945 quintals in coffee exports for the 2015/2016 season, at an average price of USD 172.39, generating USD 93.1 million in revenues. This puts the volume of exports down by 28 percent from the figure for the 2014/2015 season at the same time.

    According to CENTA-CAFÉ, the strategy for reviving coffee production focuses on four strategic areas, including technical research assistance, country-wide regular surveillance for coffee rust disease, chemical control of coffee rust, and genetic rust control.

    Flooding in Nicaragua

    The mid-July rains in Nicaragua caused the Rama, Mico, Grande de Matagalpa, and Prinzapolka Rivers to overflow their banks, flooding Caribbean coastal areas and affecting thousands of residents in the Autonomous Northern and Southern Caribbean Coast Regions. The affected areas include 33 communities on the banks of the Prinzapolka River, with approximately 17,000 flood victims. Some displaced residents of Alamikambam sought refuge on higher ground. Others were evacuated by COMUPRED (the municipal disaster relief agency) and placed in shelters.

    Projected regional outlook through January 2017



    In Honduras, very poor subsistence farming households and households of day laborers in communities in livelihood zones 7 and 5, mainly in southern and southwestern areas of the country, are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with no staple food reserves and very few employment opportunities. By October, with the harvests of staple crops from the Primera season and seasonal expansion in job opportunities, mainly in the coffee sector, most of these households are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least January 2017.

    In El Salvador, households in the West and East dependent on subsistence staple production, as well as small coffee growers and day laborers concentrated mainly in livelihood zones 2, 3, and 4, are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) after several consecutive years of damage to their crops from droughts and coffee rust infestations. The worst-off households could be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Beginning in October, the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity will decrease, due to the availability of staple reserves from own production and the seasonal expansion in job opportunities.

    In Nicaragua, very poor subsistence farming households and households of day laborers and small coffee growers in northern and northwestern areas of the country, in livelihood zones 3 and 12, currently have no food reserves and are market-dependent for their food supplies at a time when income-earning opportunities are at a seasonal low. Most of these households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with some of the worst-off households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). By October, the number of people in these conditions of food insecurity will decline with the harvest of Primera crops and expansion in income-generating opportunities, both in the coffee sector and in other areas such as livestock-raising and tobacco and fruit production.

    Figures Estimated rainfall anomaly (CHIRPS)

    Figure 1

    Estimated rainfall anomaly (CHIRPS)

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Trends in wholesale prices across the region (USD/kg)

    Figure 2

    Trends in wholesale prices across the region (USD/kg)

    Source: FEWS NET, with feedback from government agencies monitoring markets

    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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