Remote Monitoring Report

Stressed Food Security in Central America

December 2018

December 2018 - January 2019

Los tres países se encuentran en fase 2 (estrés)

February - May 2019

Los tres países se encuentran en fase 2 (estrés)

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The poorest households located in the region's dry corridor will be Stressed since livelihoods have deteriorated due to recurrent production losses, limited income and rising prices of basic products. 

  • El Niño conditions are forecast for the March-May 2019 quarter, which could affect Apante sowings in Nicaraguan and Honduran production areas.

  • El Niño conditions for the March-May 2019 quarter could cause a delay or false start to the rains during the Primera season, primarily affecting communities located in the Central American dry corridor.

  • Postrera harvests are considered to have been average and white maize prices are expected to follow their seasonal trend, however these will be between average to above the five-year average. During this period, bean prices are expected to be from average to below average in El Salvador and Honduras, and above average in Nicaragua.

  • Vulnerable households in the dry corridor across the three countries that lack food stocks and employment, and have experienced losses from the Primera and Postrera harvests, will experience Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) from December 2018 to May 2019. However, a small number of households may enter the Crisis stage of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3).

SEASONAL OUTLOOK

Postrera Production: The extended period of days without rain between August and September (extended seasonal dry spell) affected Primera sowings and forced farmers in various production areas to delay Postrera sowings (September - October). As a result, governments promoted strategies and technical recommendations for successful cultivation, according to the agrological conditions of each region. In addition, the high rainfall recorded during October and November damaged crops, mainly through pests and diseases affecting Postrera bean production. As a result, the regional harvest may be below normal.

Apante Production: Weather forecasts predict the formation of El Niño during the January/May period. This may produce irregular or below normal rainfall in the Atlantic regions, which could affect basic cereal production during the Apante season, which is sown in the region during December and January and harvested in March and April, particularly in Nicaragua (Jinotega, Matagalpa, RAAN and RAAS), and Honduras (Olancho, El Paraíso, Yoro, Comayagua and Santa Bárbara).

Primera Sowings 2019: In line with the predictions of El Niño, a delay or false start to the rains and irregularities in temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall may be expected during the Primera basic cereal season in the dry corridor. These conditions may cause damage or loss during plant development.

Honduras: In November, Postrera maize crops were still at different stages of development and the high rainfall during October and November caused flooding problems, particularly in Choluteca production areas. In the Aguán Valley crops developed normally and were at the flowering stage, while in the western region they were damaged by pests and cold fronts, affecting the crop during development and flowering stages. The bean developed in the same way in Olancho, reaching the phenological stage of ripening. In the southern production areas, the climatic conditions have affected the crop, which is at the ripening stage. In the west of the country, the crop was affected by pests and cold fronts during the ripening stage and at the start of harvesting. Given crop development, it has not yet been possible to identify the impact of excess rainfall and cold fronts, which will be reflected at the end of the harvest in early January.

It is estimated that most of the vulnerable subsistence farming families in Honduras’ dry corridor have depleted basic cereal stocks, and employment opportunities depend on the production of irrigated tropical fruits and vegetables, cane cutting, shrimp production - in the areas close to the Gulf of Fonseca - and primarily coffee picking in the country's various coffee producing mountain ranges, where harvesting began in November.

Through the Honduran Institute of Agricultural Marketing, the government has signed sales agreements for the Postrera harvest with individual farmers and organizations, maintaining a guaranteed price of 1,000 Lempiras per quintal of red beans with the aim of supporting producers and establishing a strategic reserve of fifty thousand quintals, to safeguard supplies and stabilize prices during the lean season.

El Salvador: In order to encourage cereal production, stabilize prices and avoid shortages during the lean season, the government has distributed agricultural kits (maize seed and fertilizer) for planting in wetlands and under irrigation systems.

Nicaragua: Postrera crops of maize, bean and sorghum were indicating different development stages in November, but the bean crop has been affected by fungal diseases; in some production areas, the maize crop was delayed and losses of approximately 10 per cent are reported due to excessive rainfall during the first ten days of October. However, there are also areas in which the Primera crop is still being harvested.

PRODUCCIÓN Y COMERCIALIZACIÓN DE GRANOS BÁSICOS EN LA REGIÓN

Producción de Postrera: La prolongación de los días sin lluvia entre agosto y septiembre (canícula extendida) afectó las siembras de Primera y obligó a los agricultores en diferentes zonas de producción a realizar las siembras de Postrera con retrasos (septiembre – octubre), por lo que, en función de las condiciones agrológicas de cada región, los gobiernos impulsaron estrategias y recomendaciones técnicas para el buen cultivo. Adicionalmente, las altas precipitaciones que se registraron durante octubre y noviembre provocaron daños a los cultivos, principalmente por plagas y enfermedades en la producción del frijol de Postrera, por lo que la cosecha podrá ser por debajo del normal en la Región.

Producción de Apante: Los pronósticos climáticos prevén el establecimiento de El Niño durante el periodo enero/mayo, el cual podría producir lluvias irregulares o por debajo de lo normal en las regiones del Atlántico, que podrían afectar la producción de granos básicos de la temporada de Apante, que se siembra en la región durante diciembre y enero y se cosecha durante marzo y abril, particularmente en Nicaragua (Jinotega, Matagalpa, RAAN, RAAS), y Honduras (Olancho, El Paraíso, Yoro, Comayagua, Santa Bárbara).

Siembras de Primera 2019: De acuerdo con los pronósticos de El Niño, se podría esperar un retraso o falso inicio de las lluvias e irregularidades en la distribución temporal y espacial durante el ciclo de Primera de granos básicos en el Corredor Seco, condiciones que podrían provocar daños o pérdidas durante el desarrollo vegetativo.

Honduras: En noviembre, los cultivos de maíz de la temporada de Postrera aún estaban en diferentes fases de desarrollo y las altas precipitaciones durante octubre y noviembre provocaron problemas por inundación, particularmente en las zonas de producción de Choluteca. En el Valle del Aguán se desarrollaban normalmente y estaban en etapa de floración, mientras que en la zona occidental se registró daños por plagas y frentes fríos, afectando el cultivo en etapas de desarrollo y floración. El frijol se desarrollaba de igual manera en Olancho alcanzado la fase fenológica de maduración y en las zonas de producción del sur las condiciones climáticas han afectado el cultivo, encontrándose en su etapa de maduración. En el occidente del país, el cultivo fue afectado por plagas y los frentes frio en su etapa de maduración e inicio de cosechas. Dada la evolución de los cultivos, aún no se ha podido identificar el impacto por el exceso de lluvias y frentes fríos, lo cual se verá reflejado al final de la cosecha a principios de enero.

Se estima que la mayoría de las familias vulnerables de agricultura de subsistencia en el Corredor Seco de Honduras han agotado las reservas de granos básicos y las oportunidades de empleo dependen de la producción de frutas y hortalizas tropicales bajo riego, corte de caña, producción de camarón – en las regiones próximas al Golfo de Fonseca – y principalmente corte del café en las diferentes cordilleras cafetaleras del país, cuya cosecha se inició en noviembre.

El gobierno, por medio del Instituto Hondureño de Mercadeo Agrícola, suscribió convenios de comercialización de la cosecha de Postrera con agricultores individuales y organizados, manteniendo un precio de garantía de 1,000 lempiras/quintal de frijol rojo con el fin de apoyar a los productores y establecer la reserva estratégica de cincuenta mil quintales, para asegurar el abastecimiento y estabilización de los precios durante el periodo de escasez.

El Salvador: Con el objeto de fomentar la producción de granos, estabilizar los precios y evitar el desabastecimiento durante la época de escasez, el gobierno ha distribuido paquetes agrícolas (semilla de maíz y fertilizante) para la siembra en zonas húmedas y bajo sistemas de riego.

Nicaragua: En noviembre, las siembras de maíz, frijol y sorgo de la temporada de Postrera registraban diferentes desarrollos, pero el frijol ha sido afectado por enfermedades fungosas; en algunas zonas de producción, el cultivo de maíz se retrasó y se reportan pérdidas aproximadamente del 10% debido a los excesos de precipitación ocurridas en la primera decena del mes de octubre, no obstante, también hay zonas en las que aún se levanta la cosecha de Primera. 

BASIC CEREAL PRICES IN THE REGION

During the period from February to May 2019, white maize prices in Honduras and Nicaragua are expected to follow the seasonal trend, but above the average, and to maintain an atypical behavior as observed during 2018.

Red bean prices are expected to perform at between average and below average seasonal levels for El Salvador and Honduras, while in Nicaragua they are expected to be above average, due to the potential impact of El Niño on Apante production.

INCOME SOURCES

COFFEE-GROWING SECTOR

The international price of coffee has impeded the profitability of coffee cultivation in the region, and its capacity to pay better wages, especially during the harvest. It is believed that this could worsen during the current season. In September 2018 the monthly average of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) composite indicator price fell to 98.17 US cents. This was the lowest price since October 2006 when it stood at 95.53 cents; in October it recovered to 111.29 US cents. However, in November it fell again to 98.17 US cents. This behavior prevents better wages being paid to vulnerable populations that depend on picking and crop management activities.

El Salvador: According to the Salvadoran Coffee Council's export register, 18,055 quintals of green coffee were exported in October 2018, with a value of US$ 2,108,358. This represented a variation of -8.5 per cent on the volume exported in October 2017, and -22.8 per cent on the value of exports in the same month.

Honduras: There was a reduction in coffee rust in October, with an average national incidence of 7.54 per cent, representing a green alert. There is a projected yellow alert for November 2018, with an average higher than 10 per cent.

Nicaragua: According to government estimates, national production projections for the 2018/2019 season are three million quintals of green coffee. Rust incidence is not currently considered significant nationally (7.6 per cent), and higher levels (12-33.7 per cent) have only been recorded in Carazo, Masaya and Estelí.

The coffee harvest officially started at the end of November (Matagalpa and Madriz) and there has not yet been any repetition of last year’s labor problems. The minimum wage for picking in Matagalpa is C$ 30 (US$ 0.95) per lata with food and C$ 35 (US$1.08) without food.

MIGRATION AND REMITTANCES

El Salvador: According to the Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador, in October 2018 the country received US$ 4,504.2 million in family remittances, a 9.1 per cent increase on the same period last year; remittances came from 157 countries, the largest amount coming from the United States, followed by the European Union and Canada. The departments that received most remittances were: San Salvador (19.5 per cent), San Miguel (11.7 per cent) and La Unión (8.2 per cent); departments receiving less include Cuscatlán (2.4 per cent) and San Vicente (3.4 per cent). Chalatenango continues to register the highest income (a 5.5 per cent increase on the same period last year).

Honduras: According to the Central Bank of Honduras (BCH), family remittances received from January to September amounted to US$ 3,605.5 million, a 9.9 per cent increase on the same period in 2017. Remittances are the country's main source of foreign exchange, ahead of exports such as coffee, factory products and shrimp, at over 18 per cent of GDP in 2017.

By the first week of December 2018, the caravan of Central American migrants that began in San Pedro Sula on October 12, 2018, had reached Tijuana, Mexico's border with the United States. It is estimated that over 3,000 people are on the border. This migration is attributed to: communities with delayed socioeconomic development, lack of employment opportunities, increase in the basic basket and unemployment, extreme poverty and high rates of violence. 

According to official data, in October 2018, 60,083 Hondurans were deported, an increase of 66 per cent on the same period in 2016, when 39,884 were deported.

Nicaragua: Costa Rican authorities this month reported more than 25,000 Nicaraguan refugees due to the current crisis. According to official information, this year more than 24,000 Nicaraguans have sought asylum in Costa Rica, compared to 6,300 people of all nationalities who sought asylum last year. Others migrate to the United States and Spain, although the middle to upper class population regularly migrate to these destinations, particularly young people, who are the section of society most exposed to government repression.

Fear has developed in several regions of the country due to increased persecution of those who take part in marches, strikes or demonstrations. People are afraid to go out to work and many families prefer to migrate. The government recently issued a legislative decree banning demonstrations, marches and sit-ins and it has militarized public places such as shopping malls.

OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME

In vulnerable regions, some populations may find employment in vegetable (tomatoes, chili peppers and onions) and tropical fruit (melons, watermelons and bananas) production, in the largely coastal shrimp industry, and in cane cutting during the harvest, although this season the sector faces challenges due to the impact of drought and the decline in prices on the international market.

PROJECTED REGIONAL OUTLOOK FROM DECEMBER 2018 TO JANUARY 2019

 

Food availability: Food availability for the vulnerable population mainly consists of the Primera and Postrera maize and bean harvests, which are completed at the end of the year. According to preliminary data, losses were recorded in Primera crops due to drought and there were damages to Postrera crops due to excess rainfall. As a result, families whose harvests were reduced will consume these during this period.

Food access. The vulnerable population will have access to the market for food, through cash wages from agricultural, industrial, construction or commercial employment.

Food consumption and changes in livelihoods. The most vulnerable population, temporarily employed in the coffee harvest, will not receive a higher salary than in recent years due to the low profit of coffee growers, and will rely on the market for buying food with their scarce economic resources. They will have basic food consumption but will be unable to acquire non-food items without resorting to survival strategies.

Food security outcomes: Subsistence farming households in communities located in the region's dry corridor, mainly in the south and west of Honduras (El Paraíso, Choluteca, Francisco Morazán, Valle, La Paz, Intibucá, Lempira, Copan and Ocotepeque departments), in eastern and western El Salvador (La Unión, Morazán, San Miguel, Cabañas, Usulután, Ahuachapán, Santa Ana and Sonsonate) and in the center-north of Nicaragua (Estelí, Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Chinandega Matagalpa and Jinotega), where families have limited food stocks due to Primera harvest losses and damage to the Postrera harvest, will be able to achieve basic food consumption but will have difficulty in obtaining basic non-food items, placing these areas in Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2). However, a small number of poorer households in underdeveloped communities, without basic services (health, water, education and transport), with restrictions to their food consumption and deteriorating livelihoods, will enter the Crisis stage of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3).

PROJECTED REGIONAL OUTLOOK FROM FEBRUARY TO MAY 2019

 

Food availability: Food availability for the vulnerable population mainly consists of the maize and bean harvests, which in this period have been exhausted, although some regions are able to produce during the Apante and late Postrera seasons harvested between March and April. However, according to weather forecasts, the formation of El Niño during that period may affect these crops.

Food access. The vulnerable population will have access to the market for food during this period, acquiring basic products with wages earned from seasonal employment which comes to an end in February. However, despite dependence on markets where prices will be higher, most of the poorest households will be able to access basic food.

Food consumption and changes in livelihoods. The most vulnerable population, temporarily employed in the coffee harvest, will not receive a higher salary than in recent years due to the low profitability of the sector and the end of the harvest season. However, the majority of this population will be able to achieve basic food consumption but will have difficulty accessing basic non-food items.

Food security outcomes: Subsistence farming households in communities located in the region's dry corridor, mainly in the south and west of Honduras (El Paraíso, Choluteca, Francisco Morazán, Valle, La Paz, Intibucá, Lempira, Copan and Ocotepeque departments), in eastern and western El Salvador (La Unión, Morazán, San Miguel, Cabañas, Usulután, Ahuachapán, Santa Ana and Sonsonate) and in the center-north of Nicaragua (Estelí, Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Chinandega Matagalpa and Jinotega), where families lack food stocks, have limited employment and face price rises, will achieve basic food consumption but will only be able to obtain basic non-food items with difficulty. These areas will thus enter Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2). However, a small number of poorer households in underdeveloped communities without basic services (health, water, education and transport) will have to sell productive assets or will face restrictions to their food consumption and may enter Crisis food insecurity (IPC Phase 3).  

About Remote Monitoring

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.

About FEWS NET

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