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FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

This report analyses food security, production and trade of cereals and food security related policies implemented by governments in Latin America and the Caribbean during the first trimester of 2014

Quarterly Food and Nutrition Security Report. January - March 2014

The state of the dimensions of food security in LAC, first quarter 2014

Food access: lower economic growth than was expected for 2014, couples with higher food prices, especially in South America, threaten the dimension of food access in the region.

Food availability: Food availability is assured in the region. Good forecasts of production and the recovery of crops throughout Latin America and the Caribbean augur promise in this dimension.

Food stability: The region has seen continued growth during 2014 in both food and overall inflation, especially driven by the countries of South America, which may affect the stability of food security. Despite this non-climate during the quarter situations that put at risk were observed.

Food utilization: This dimension could be affected due to the rise in food prices, which could spark changes in the dietary habits of the most vulnerable populations in the region. To prevent this situation, governments in the region have continued to promote measures to ensure the adequate food supply of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Key messages

  • A new reduction in economic growth is expected after the positive forecasts made at the beginning of the year. The region's economy is expected to grow by 2.5%, slightly below the levels of 2013, although there are important differences between countries and subregions. The economic recovery of the mayor world economies should spell improvements for tourism and the performance of the economies of the Caribbean, while low commodity prices threaten the economic recovery of South America.
  • International commodity prices are trending downward and are expected to continue this way in the short and medium term. This situation, particularly clear for commodities like corn, wheat, rice and soybeans, is projected to last at least until the end of 2015, reducing the return on exports and thereby inhibiting economic growth in several countries in the region, especially those of South America.
  • Food prices are higher today than a year ago in the region, mainly due to a rise in prices in the countries of South America. With the exception of Brazil and Uruguay, in all monitored South American countries, food inflation is higher today than a year ago. The upward trend observed since early this year raises concerns.
  • FAO forecasts confirm the upward trend in grain production both globally and in Latin America and the Caribbean. World cereal production will reach 2.521 million tonnes in the 2013/2014 season, up 9.3% over the production of the previous season. In Latin America and the Caribbean, an increase in cereal production in most of the region, as well as a recovery in yields and planted areas, allow for optimism regarding cereal production this year.
  • In commercial matters, a significant increase of 6.6% is expected in traded grain volumes worldwide. In this context, the region continues to increase its shipments of food products, an example of which are Paraguay, Venezuela and Panama, which showed the greatest regional increase in exports during 2013.
  • During the first quarter of this year, governments implemented a series of initiatives to improve food production, particularly regarding corn and coffee. The public procurement of products from family farming by the government of Paraguay also stood out. With regard to nutrition, meanwhile, Guatemala began implementing programs designed to eradicate malnutrition