The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) monitors trends in staple food prices in countries vulnerable to food insecurity. For each FEWS NET country and region, the Price Bulletin provides a set of charts showing monthly prices for the current marketing year in selected urban centers and allowing users to compare current trends with five-point average prices. years, indicative of seasonal trends, and prices. in the previous year.
The main staple foods produced and consumed in most of Central America and the Caribbean are maize, rice and beans; the latter being an essential source of protein for poor households. In Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, white maize, mainly eaten in the form of tortillas, and red or black beans are preferred, while in Costa Rica and Panama rice dominates in production and consumption. In Haiti, the main staple foods are rice, black beans and maize.
In Central America, there are generally two main growing seasons: Primera (April-September) during which maize is mainly produced, and the postrera (August-December) during which bean production dominates. The apante season (November-March) is a third growing season in which beans are produced in south-central Nicaragua, northern Guatemala and northern Honduras. In Haiti, there are several growing seasons. Corn is produced during the Primavera season (April-September). Black beans are produced over two seasons in the humid and mountainous areas of Haiti. The first season runs from March to May and the second from July to October. Beans are also produced in the irrigated and humid highlands of the country during a third autumn season from December to January.
White maize and beans are commonly traded between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica in Central America. The San Salvador market in El Salvador is considered the most important regional market for these food staples and is well integrated with the rest of the region; due to the high levels of trade it hosts with both regional and international markets. Other important commercial centers include Guatemala City (Guatemala), San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa (Honduras), Chontales and Managua (Nicaragua), San Jose (Costa Rica) and Panama City (Panama). The Dominican Republic is Haiti’s main source for imported corn, beans and tubers. Haiti is heavily dependent on the United States for rice imports, for around 80% of its consumption needs.