A farmer tending his field cultivated with maize, San Lucas, Honduras. In Honduras, the majority of the land used for agriculture lies on hillsides, water provision is a major problem for communities relying on rainfall for farming.
Photo: ©FAO/Orlando Sierra

Critical food situation in Central America

Low rainfall and dry conditions have caused major crop losses in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The precarious food situation could be compounded by the possible arrival of an El Niño in late 2018.

Drought in Central America has caused major crop losses, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported in late August 2018. Lower-than-average rainfall and drier-than-average conditions in June and July affected the first crop cycle in Central America, also known as “primera”.
   
The drought has led to the loss of some 280,000 hectares of beans and maize in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, affecting the food security of more than 2 million people. Maize and beans are the main staple food in the region on which the food and nutrition security of much of the populations depends. The losses will increase the cost of these foods for the entire population.
   
The Honduran government declared the emergency in the Dry Corridor this month, where it is estimated that 82 per cent of the maize and bean crops have been lost, while the government of El Salvador declared a red alert in July.

El Niño could worsen the critical food situation

Communities in Central America are just recovering from the 2014 drought and the El Niño phenomenon of 2015. Now they are threatened by the possible arrival of an El Niño before the end of 2018, which could worsen the precarious food and nutrition situation of vulnerable rural communities. According to the International Research Institute/Climate Prediction Centre (IRI/CPC), there is a 60 per cent chance of a new El Niño between September and December 2018.  
   
The second crop cycle (known as the “postrera”), which usually makes up for the deficiencies of the first harvest, takes place in November. Even if the El Niño turns out to be a weak one, it will have a significant impact on the outcome of the second harvest. 
  
(WFP/FAO/ile)