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GIEWS Update-detail

In Guatemala, irregular rainfalls affected 2004/05 first “de primera” season maize and bean crops that are about to be harvested. The ‘canicula’, the so-called dry period that usually takes place in August during the rainy season, prolonged its duration from the normal 2-3 weeks to 30-40 days. The most affected departments are Retalhuleu and Suchitepéquez in the south-west, especially the areas on the Pacific coast, and El Progreso, Zacapa and Chiquimula in the east. The south-eastern departments of Jutiapa and Jalapa have also reported some minor losses. In particular, the adverse weather conditions affected those farmers that, due to late arrival of the first rains, had to postpone maize plantings until the second half of May.

The first season harvest represents the bulk of the annual maize crop production, being very small the second season crop that is planted from September in coastal areas and in southern provinces of the departments of Alta Verapaz and Izabal. Unofficial early forecast of 2004 maize production were already pointing to a decline from 1 million tonnes obtained in 2003 to 950 000 tonnes this year due to reduced plantings. The negative effects of the dry weather would imply a further downward revision of these figures.

The food supply situation is reported as problematic in the affected departments and it is likely to deteriorate in the coming months. In order to support the production of the second “de postrera” season bean crops, to be planted from the beginning of September, the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA) and FAO are distributing certified seeds and fertilizers to drought-affected communities in eastern departments.