Tortillas on the roaster: Central America’s maize–bean systems and the changing climate

Maize and beans are a vital component of human diets and culture in Central America. More than a million smallholder families grow these crops for subsistence, producing 70% of the maize and 100% of the beans consumed locally. Average yields are low, however – 1.5 t/ha for maize and 0.7 t/ha for beans – on the approximately 2.5 million hectares of land sown to these crops (40% of the total area harvested) in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In the years to come, a harsher climate together with soil degradation1, widespread poverty, and rural people’s limited access to services and infrastructure will pose challenging obstacles to production. By 2025, these pressures could result in total annual losses of maize and bean production in the four countries of around 350,000 t – with a gross production value of around US$120 million. To ward off this threat to the food security of some 100,000 households, effective adaptation strategies must be developed in collaboration with stakeholders in the maize and bean value chains. These strategies require strong public support and must draw on both scientific and community knowledge.
Brief

Published on

2013-02

Author(s)

  • Eitzinger, Anton
  • Läderach, Peter
  • Sonder, Kai
  • Schmidt A
  • Sain G
  • Beebe, Stephen E.
  • Rodríguez, Beatriz
  • Fisher M
  • Hicks P
  • Navarrete-Frías, C
  • Nowak, Andreea

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Citation

Eitzinger A, Läderach P, Sonder K, Schmidt A, Sain G, Beebe S, Rodríguez B, Fisher M, Hicks P, Navarrete-Frías C, Nowak A. 2012. Tortillas on the roaster: Central America’s maize–bean systems and the changing climate. CIAT Policy Brief No. 6. Cali, Colombia: Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT).

Series/Report No.

CIAT Policy Brief;6