AGUACATE, Nicaragua — As Olman Fuzez turned over a bucket of millet, an old fan on full blast separated out small leaves and rocks. Nearby stood a small rusty silo that once stored maize. “It has been empty for three years,” said Fuzez. “We didn´t eat millet before, but now we have no choice.”
For two years straight, Fuzez has lost his entire corn crop due to a prolonged drought. For dinner his extended family of six will eat millet tortillas with a small portion of beans — they have enough beans to last only three more months, and not enough money to buy seeds for the next planting season.
Like the Fuzez family, hundreds of thousands of small farmers in Central America are facing a food crisis. They live in the Dry Corridor of Central America, which stretches from the low areas of the Pacific through the foothills of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and parts of Costa Rica.
As its name implies, the area tends to have a deficit of rainfall. But the last few years have been particularly dry as a result of El Niño, a weather phenomenon related to the abnormal warming of surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Late last year, NASA warned that the El Niño phenomenon would continue into 2016, threatening to become the worst year on record.