El Salvador: Drought emergency

After a good start of the 2018 rainy season in April, a reduction in the quantity and distribution of rains has been observed and is likely to impact basic grains crops in Central America´s Dry Corridor.  Specific areas in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have reported more than 25 days without rain, yields
reduction and crop losses, particularly affecting subsistence farmers.

Typically, there is little to no rainfall in August, which is called the canícula in Spanish. However, since the canícula arrived much earlier than usual this year, crops losses have been significantly higher in the affected areas due to the sustained drought conditions.

El Salvador’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) confirmed that the drought has affected approximately 57,000 hectares of land, of which around 22,000 hectares of cropland has been destroyed, resulting in the loss of 2.7 million quintals of corn and USD$37 million in damages.      The Salvadorian Chamber of Small and Medium Agricultural Producers (CAMPO) estimates that the corn crop losses to date are even higher at 4.1 million quintals and that they could surpass 6 million quintals if the drought continues since 2.3 million quintals are at risk. The drought has affected 77,322 agricultural families in El Salvador.

The General Direction for Civil protection declared a red alert for 143 municipalities in the central and eastern parts of the country on 24 July 2018 to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected families. According to the last COF (Climate outlook forecast for Central America), below average precipitation and an early end as well as irregular rains during the Postrera (second sowing season) campaign could affect the harvest of the basic grains, especially for subsistence farmers.