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Reference Date: 16-April-2015


  1. Planting prospects uncertain due to El Niño conditions

  2. Estimates for 2014 cereal production point to slight increase in output

  3. Cereal imports to firm up in 2014/15

  4. Prices of maize and beans decline in March

Planting prospects uncertain due to El Niño conditions

Planting of the 2015 main season cereal and beans crops is scheduled to start from late May. During March through early April 2015, the threshold conditions for a weak El Niño (ENSO) event had been reached. The consensus of ENSO prediction models indicate that these conditions, which are associated with dry weather and high temperatures in the Central American region, could continue and strengthen toward mid-2015.

Remote sensing data for Guatemala indicate lower-than-average rainfall levels during the first dekad of April, particularly in Alta Verapaz the second most important agricultural region, which could result in lower soil moisture for the upcoming planting season in late May, delaying or reducing sowings.

Estimates for 2014 cereal production indicate slight increase in output

Cereal production for 2014 has been preliminarily estimated at 1.9 million tonnes for 2014, or 3 percent above last year’s high level. Drought conditions during the main first season (May/September) severely reduced yields or caused total crop losses in the Dry Corridor, located in the Departments of El Progreso, Jalapa, Zacapa, Chiquimula, Jutiapa and Baja Verapaz, preventing production gains despite increased plantings. However, optimal weather conditions in the northern region of Petén during the third maize season (December/March) compensated for these earlier losses at a national level, although production was sharply reduced at local level.

Final estimates of the population affected by the extended drought period during the de primera season stand at 268 000 families. Crop losses among the affected population were officially estimated to have reached 86 000 tonnes for maize and 30 000 tonnes for beans.

Cereal imports to firm up in 2014/15

Cereal imports for the 2014/15 marketing year (July/June) are forecast to increase from the previous year by almost 6 percent and reach a record level. This mainly reflects the projected growth in maize imports, expected at 830 000 tonnes, to satisfy the sustained demand from the animal feed industry and to compensate for the drought-reduced 2014 output. By contrast, wheat imports are anticipated to decrease slightly from last year’s level.

Prices of maize and beans declined in March

Maize prices in March eased somewhat with supplies from the ongoing harvest in the Peten region, and were close to their year-earlier levels. Substantial maize imports from Mexico have helped to keep prices relatively stable. Similarly, prices of black beans also declined with the recent harvest and remained relatively unchanged from a year earlier reflecting the ample supplies in the market.

Relevant links:
 Food Price Data and Analysis Tool
 Earth Observation Indicators
 Seasonal Indicators
 Vegetation Indicators
 Precipitation Indicators
 Graphs & Data
 NDVI & Precipitation
 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) Reports & Special Alerts: 2010
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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