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Country Briefs

  El Salvador

Reference Date: 20-August-2020

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Maize output in 2020 forecast at above‑average level due to good yields

  2. Cereal import requirements in 2020/21 forecast at above‑average level

  3. Following upsurge in March‑June period, prices of red beans and rice remained well above year‑earlier levels

Maize output in 2020 forecast at above‑average level due to good yields

Harvesting of the 2020 main season maize crop, which accounts for about 80 percent of the annual production, is ongoing under favourable weather conditions. Good yields are expected as favourable rainfall in the May‑July period benefitted crop development. The passage of Tropical Storm Amanda in early June did not have a severe impact on the maize crop and the affected crops in the western region were successfully replanted within the planting window. In order to boost production of the 2020 main maize crop, the Ministry of Agriculture distributed free seeds and fertilizers across the country between the end of April and early June to 400 000 farmers, marking an annual increase in beneficiaries of 30 percent. Although there is no official estimate of plantings, high domestic prices and good soil moisture during the planting period are likely to have instigated an increase in the area.

Planting operations of the 2020 minor season maize crop, to be harvested in November and December, are underway. The localized outbreak of Central American locusts (Schistocerca piceifrons) in the central and eastern regions was successfully contained as of mid‑August due to effective control measures and no major crop losses were reported. Assuming normal minor season conditions, the aggregate 2020 maize output is forecast at 920 000 tonnes, about 10 percent higher than the previous five‑year average.

The Ministry of Agriculture started the free distribution of improved bean seeds in mid‑August for ongoing planting operations of the main bean season. The target is expected to reach 223 000 farmers across the country.

Cereal import requirements in 2020/21 forecast at above‑average level

Cereal import requirements in the 2020/21 marketing year (September/August) are forecast at about 1.2 million tonnes, 6 percent above the previous five‑year average, reflecting a sustained demand for yellow maize from the poultry sector. The forecast requirements are anticipated to decline slightly from the previous year, when about 50 000 tonnes of white maize were imported as strategic reserves in response to soaring market prices in the March‑April period due to the COVID‑19 pandemic. In addition, imports of white maize are forecast to decline year on year due to the good output expected in 2020. Regarding wheat, the country entirely depends on imports to cover the domestic demand for human consumption and wheat imports in 2020/21 are forecast at a slight above‑average level of 340 000 tonnes.

Following upsurge in March‑June period, prices of red beans and rice in July remained well above year‑earlier levels

Prices of white maize declined for the third consecutive month in July reflecting a return to normal levels of domestic demand, after the exceptionally high levels that exerted upward pressure on prices in the March‑April period. As of July 2020, prices were 11 percent below their year‑earlier levels due to the good 2019 output, compounded by favourable production prospects for the 2020 main maize crop. With regard to red beans, prices increased sharply from March to June reflecting the upsurge in retail demand and high prices in Nicaragua, the main supplier of red beans during the lean season. In July, prices decreased due to the weakened domestic demand but remained more than 45 percent higher year on year. Prices of rice also increased in the March‑June period and were 22 percent higher than in July 2019.

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