Three Latin American nations have offered immediate aid to thousands of Guatemalans affected by drought, Vice President Roxana Baldetti announced on Sunday.
Venezuela, Brazil and the Dominican Republic have all responded to a plea from Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, who said last week the country could be on the verge of a major food crisis.
Baldetti is set to meet with representatives from Venezuela, Brazil and the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.
Over 200,000 Guatemalan families have already been affected by food shortages caused by the drought, many in poor rural areas. However, that figure could soon balloon to as many as 1.2 million, according to the government.
Guatemala’s economy has suffered a major blow since the drought began in July. The agricultural sector accounts for over 20 percent of the country’s GDP, and is one of the largest employers.
Many Guatemalans also survive off subsistence farming. Agricultural losses have already topped Q450 million (US$57.84 million), according to the ministry of agriculture.
Corn and bean production have been most affected. Both products are stables of the Guatemalan diet. The president declared a state of emergency in 22 of Guatemala’s provinces in August, amid warnings the drought is the worst in recent years.
The declaration allowed the government to impose special measures such as price controls and emergency deliveries of food to agricultural communities.