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The impact of the El Niño phenomenon on agricultural production will further increase prices and increase acute food insecurity foreseeably in Central America, especially in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, alerted today the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP).

Seasonal forecasts suggest a high probability of below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures in the June-August period, says the report released today for the prospects of the so-called “hotspots” or critical points of hunger, from June to November 2023.

It is “likely that the dry conditions in this period will affect the main maize crop at critical stages for crop yields, with adverse effects on production,” the document indicates.

Furthermore, he adds, “drought is expected to persist during the period from August to October, which may also affect the main bean crop.”

“The decrease in the harvests of basic grains in 2023 could reduce food reserves for consumption and sale, increasing the market dependence of 1.9 million small farmers in Central America, after they have already been compromised by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine”.

In Honduras, it is estimated that approximately 2.6 million people (28 percent of the total population) faced acute food insecurity during the lean season from June to August 2022, down slightly from the 3.3 million in the 2021 lean period.

In Guatemala, the number of people facing a crisis or acutely food insecure was estimated at 3.2 million (19% of the population surveyed) between October 2022 and February 2023, representing a sharp increase of 2.5 million.

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Although they are not included as “hot spots”, the report explains that Colombia is under close surveillance, where “15.5 million Colombians, 30% of the national population, faced high levels of acute food insecurity between October and November 2022”, according to the WFP methodology.

And another 1.3 million migrants intending to settle in the country were in high levels of acute food insecurity between June and August 2022 (52% of the migrant population living in Colombia).

“The likely ongoing economic challenges, high inflation and possible adverse impacts of dry weather conditions from June to November, as well as the conflict require close monitoring of the situation,” the report states.

In Venezuela, “the situation requires attention despite the lack of recent comparable data. The available evidence points to a relative stabilization of the economic situation from 2021, after seven years of economic recession, although inflation is expected to remain very high by 400 percent in 2023.”

Despite economic growth due to an improvement in oil production in 2022 and early 2023 the shortage of foreign currency, added to hyperinflation and the maxi-depreciation of the national currency, are key factors that contribute to the general increase in the prices of many products, including basic foods, which have affected access to food,” they explained. .

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