A SURVEY OF
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE
Agricultural production, the basis of Guatemala's economy, increased
during the past 15 years and is expected to continue to rise in the next
The principal export crops--coffee, cotton, sugar, and bananas--are grown on
large holdings and have benefited the most from improved growing and marketing
techniques. Corn is the principal subsistence crop and wheat is the most im-
portant agricultural import. Both crop and livestock output can be expanded,
but their rapid growth is handicapped by the low level of education of many
farmers, unimproved agricultural technology on numerous farms, inadequate farm
credit, and political and social problems.
The United States and Guatemala are politically and economically important
to each other. The United States is the first market for Guatemala's exports,
but its share in total export value is declining as members of the Central
American Common Market take a greater quantity of Guatemala's commodities.
Key Words: Guatemala, Agricultural production expansion, Agricultural po'
Farming patterns, Economic integration, Foreign aid.
Economic and political ties between Guatemala and the United States are
strong, and trade is mutually profitable. The United States supplies Guatemala
with large quantities of wheat and lesser amounts of dairy products, breeding
stock, inedible tallow, and other agricultural commodities. Guatemala exports
large quantities of commodities to the United States that complement U.S.
agricultural output--coffee, bananas, and essential oils--as well as products
of a supplementary nature--sugar, beef, cotton linters, and sesame seed.
This report updates material published in the out-of-print report,
Guatemala, Its Agricultural Production and Trade (ERS-Foreign-14). The author
has relied heavily on information received from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala
City, particularly the reports of the Agricultural Attache, and on the assis-
tance and advice of members of the Western Hemisphere Branch, Economic Research
Service (ERS), U.S. Department of Agriculture, especially the Guatemala desk
officer, Mary S. Coyner. The author also is grateful to the staff of the
Special Projects Branch, ERS, for constructive suggestions, statistical support,
and preparation of the maps. A bibliography of useful references is included
at the end of this report.
Metric units were used for the most part in the report; their equivalents
are given below:
1 metric ton = 2,204.6 pounds
1 hectare = 2.471 acres
1 kilometer = 0.6214 mile
1 meter = 39.37 inches
1 square kilometer = 0.386 square mile
Summary . . . . . * * iv
Introduction * * * . 1
Historical Relationships .. . . 2
Nature of the Economy ... . . 2
Physical Environment .. . ..... .* .. .. 3
Human Resources and Labor Supply . .. ... 6
Organization of Agriculture . . . . 9
Use of Farmland and Number of Farms . . . 10
Size and Tenure of Farms . ... .. 10
Farming Patterns .. .* * * * 13
Farm Practices . . . . . . 14
Agricultural Policies and Institutions . . . . 17
Domestic Policies . . *. * *. 17
Farm Organizations ...... ... 21
Foreign Trade Policies . . o e 21
Foreign Aid . .. . . o .. 22
Major Crops * 23
Coffee . . e . . . 24
Grains . . . . . . 27
Pulses . . . . . . 32
Fibers . . . . . . 33
Sugar . . . . . 35
Fruits and Vegetables .. .. . . .. .. . 37
Other Commodities *. * * * 38
Livestock and Livestock Products ..... . . 40
Numbers and Distribution . . 40
Livestock and Pasture Management ...... . . 43
Livestock Products ... .. .. .... 43
Foreign Trade . . . .. .... 44
Exports . . o e e e . o 44
Imports . . o ... .. * ... 45
U.S. Trade with Guatemala ..... ... . 47
Agricultural Prospects .. . . . 49
Bibliography . . .. . . . 51
Washington, D.C. 20250 December 1970
LIST OF TABLES
l.--Land use in Guatemala, 1950 and 1964 . . 11
2.--Number and area of farms, by zone, Guatemala, 1950 and 1964 11
3.--Percentage distribution of farms, by size group, Guatemala, 1950
and 1964 .. .* . . . .* 12
4.--Use of power on farms, by size of farm and type of power,
Guatemala, 1964 . . . * * 16
5.--Number and area of farms in irrigation, by size of farm, Guatemala
1950 and 1964 . . . . .. ... 17
6.--Institutional credit granted for agriculture in Guatemala, by type
of lending agency, 1967 and 1968 . . ... 19
7.--Coffee beans: Production, exports, and domestic consumption,
Guatemala, averages 1951-65, annual 1961-70 . ... 25
8.--Corn: Area, production, and net trade, Guatemala, averages 1955-59
and 1960-64, annual 1965-69 . .......... . 29
9.--Wheat: Area, production, and net imports, Guatemala, averages
1955-59 and 1960-64, annual 1965-69 . . . 31
10.--Cotton: Area, and lint production and exports, Guatemala,
averages 1949/50-1963/64, years 1964/65-1969/70 . 34
11.--Sugar: Production and net exports, Guatemala, averages 1955-59
and 1960-64, annual 1960-69 . ...... ........ 36
12.--Essential oils: Production and exports, Guatemala, average
1960-64, annual 1965-67 ....... .......... 39
13.--Livestock on farms, Guatemala, averages 1950-64, annual 1950,
1964-69 . . . . . 41
14.--Value of principal exports, Guatemala, 1963-68 .. . 45
15.--Agricultural exports, by commodity and principal markets, Guatemala,
1967 . . . . . . . 46
16.--Agricultural imports, by commodity and principal origin, Guatemala,
1967 . . . . 0 . . 46
17.--Value of U.S. exports to Guatemala, averages 1955-59 and 1960-64,
annual 1965-68 . . . . . 48
18.--Value of U.S. imports from Guatemala, averages 1955-59 and 1960-64,
annual 1965-69 . . . .. 48
Agricultural production in Guatemala, even on a per capital basis, has increased
substantially during the past 10 to 15 years. Higher coffee and cotton output in the
early 1960's and increased food production in the latter part of the decade are re-
sponsible for this increase. Agriculture remains Guatemala's dominant industry.
Coffee is the principal commercial crop and the leading export. Cotton, sugar,
beef, and bananas are important foreign exchange earners. Guatemala's principal
trading partner, for both imports and exports, continues to be the United States.
Corn is the basic food crop in Guatemala and supplies more than half the food
energy. It is widely grown--on small farms in the highlands, and on larger plantations
in the lower elevations. Beans, panela (a brown sugar cake), squash, and a few other
vegetables supplement the tortillas, tamales, and other corn products in the
Guatemalan's diet. Animal protein makes up only a small part of the food intake.
Wheat bread, made largely from imported grain, is mostly consumed in the cities, as
are other imported specialty foods. Wheat is the most important agricultural import.
About one-third of the total area of the country is in farms, and almost 30
percent of the farmland is in pasture. Modern farming practices are being adopted on
the large, commercial plantations of the Pacific Plains and Piedmont, but the hoe and
machete are still the common tools used on the smaller farms, and the farmers there
have practically no assistance from animal or machine power.
Land tenure problems resulting from the underutilization of large holdings and
the overutilization of small holdings are being tackled by Government agencies with
foreign technical and financial aid. The Government also is making a start in helping
farmers to improve their operations by providing credit and research and extension
The Guatemalan Government has formulated several development plans that include
agricultural expansion goals, but thus far implementation has been slow. The 1970
Agricultural Development Plan promises institutional reforms and assistance in increas-
ing output of both food and export commodities.
Guatemala is cooperating in the Organization of Central American States and in
the economic integration goals set forth in the General Treaty of Central American
Economic Integration. Trade patterns are beginning to be affected by the provisions
for free trade among the member countries, and other Central American countries are
accounting for an increasing share of Guatemala's trade.
Despite Guatemala's physical resources to greatly expand both crop and livestock
production in the longer term future, only a moderate increase in agricultural output
is projected in the next 10 years. Problems of political instability, lack of
educational opportunities, inadequate financial resources, and unimproved agricultural
technology on many farms continue to hamper immediate achievement of the goals of the
1970 Agricultural Development Plan as well as those of the economic integration
program for Central America prepared by the Joint Planning Mission for the Organization
of Central American States.
A SURVEY OF AGRICULTURE IN GUATEMALA
By Kathryn H. Wylie
Special Projects Branch
Foreign Regional Analysis Division
Economic Research Service
Guatemala, the northernmost country of Central America, has close economic
ties with the United States,and there is mutually profitable agricultural trade
between the two countries. Since Guatemala's economy is still based largely on
agriculture, imports into the United States are primarily of agricultural com-
modities, most of which complement U.S. agricultural production. The United
States, on the other hand, sends Guatemala a wide variety of goods, but its
agricultural exports, while much smaller in value than agricultural imports
from Guatemala, increased steadily through 1968. In 1969, U.S. exports of
agricultural products to Guatemala declined sharply to $10.4 million because
of the growing importance of the Central American Common Market (CACM) to
Guatemalan trade (see following tabulation, shown in million U.S. dollars):
Period or year U.S. imports U.S. exports
1950-54 59.5 6.4
1955-59 66.6 9.8
1960-64 57.6 10.1
1965 62.0 10.8
1966 76.8 12.8
1967 59.7 14.1
1968 65.8 14.8
1969 (Preliminary) 70.3 10.4
Guatemala's dependency on agriculture dates back to its precolonial days
when the land was peopled by Indians of Mayan and Quiche ancestry. These
Indians depended for their livelihood on an agricultural economy based mainly
on the cultivation of corn. The first Conquistadores reached the highlands of
Guatemala in the early sixteenth century, introduced cattle from Europe, and
set up large estates for grazing and commercial agriculture. The influence of
the precolonial and colonial agricultural practices is still evident today.
Agriculture dominates the economy, corn is the staff of life, and Indian and
Spanish land tenure patterns are only recently beginning to change under pressure
for land reform.
Agricultural exports--coffee, cotton, sugar, bananas, and beef--sparked a
significant rise in the gross domestic product during the past 15 years.
Guatemalan development plans call for continued expansion in output not only of
export commodities, but also of domestic food and fiber products. Implemen-
tation of these plans is hampered by inadequate farm credit, the low level of
education, poor transportation, and the violence of dissident elements
throughout the country.
During early colonial days, Guatemala was part of the Captaincy-general of
Guatemala, a subdivision of the Viceroyalty of New Spain in Mexico City,
comprising all of Central America plus the Mexican State of Chiapas. Following
Mexico's independence from Spain, Central America, under the rule of Guatemala,
declared its independence from Mexico in 1823. Soon, however, El Salvador,
followed by other population clusters, broke away from this Central American
confederation. In 1839, the cluster that is now Guatemala became an independent
republic. Since then, at least 25 attempts have been r;lade to reconstitute a
Central American political entity--all of them unsuccessful.
Economic integration, however, has achieved some measure of success. The
Charter of San Salvador, signed in 1951 by five Central American countries, 1/
created the Organization of Central American States known as ODECA. Since 1951,
several additional Central American organizations have been set up under the
authority of treaties and agreements covering a wide range of fields. The
principal treaties are the General Treaty of Central American Economic Integra-
tion of 1960 and the Central American Convention on the Equalization of Import
Tariffs and Charges.
Guatemala has had a turbulent political life during the past 25 years, and
from 1951 to 1954 was ruled by a Communist-controlled Government that was over-
thrown by revolution. Today, a large, restive, "floating" population provides
tirder for revolutionary fires and continuing guerrilla activity.
Nature of the Economy
Agriculture has always been the mainstay of Guatemala's economy. In early
colonial days, the principal commercial crops were indigo, cocoa, sugar,
cereals, and cotton. Exports of hides and live cattle, however, far surpassed
exports of crops in the early years, and sarsaparilla root was also a valuable
foreign trade item. Indigo declined in importance after coal dyes were dis-
covered. In the middle of the nineteenth century, coffee exports rose rapidly
to become the number one exchange earner and remain so today.
Since 1955, the gross domestic product has been rising at a much faster
rate than the population increase, resulting in a real per capital gain of
approximately 3 percent annually. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries have
contributed a declining proportion of the domestic product over the past 15
years, but they still accounted for more than 27 percent of the total in 1969,
with crop production by far the most important segment. Although crop pro
I/ Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras.
continues to provide the major source of foreign exchange earnings, exports of
beef are increasing in relative value.
Recent Central American economic integration efforts are stimulating
industrial development in Guatemala, but, for the most part, industry there
depends on agriculture for raw materials. The fisheries industry is still
underdeveloped, and the outlook for commercial exploitation of Guatemala's
forestry resources is not favorable at this time, mainly because of legal
Agricultural production has increased substantially over the past 15 years,
with coffee and cotton leading in the early 1960's and higher food production
in the latter part of the decade. The index of agricultural production (on a
per capital basis) was 111 in 1969, compared with 100 in 1957-59. The increase
is expected to continue and, for the immediate future, Guatemala's economy
will continue to rely on the agricultural sector.
Guatemala is located in northern Central America, with Mexico as its
northern neighbor, and El Salvador and Honduras to the south and southeast
(fig. 1). British Honduras lies east of the large undeveloped department of
Peten. The Pacific Ocean washes a long coastline on the southwest, and the
Gulf of Honduras provides an outlet to the Caribbean Sea for the area between
British Honduras and Honduras. Although the country is entirely within the
Torrid Zone, the mountains that cover almost two-thirds of tte area moderate
the temperatures and permit cultivation of a wide variety of agricultural
products ranging from bananas in the lowlands to wheat in the higher elevations.
Topography--The Sierra Madre range, which traverses Guatemala from Mexico
southeastward to El Salvador and Honduras, divides the country into four
(1) The Peten Lowlands, covering about a third of Guatemala, are an
extension of the lowlands of Mexico and northern British Honduras.
Within this general area are the Peten Hills, consisting of low,
rounded ridges or knobs along the southern part of the boundary
with British Honduras.
(2) The Pacific Lowlands are a continuation of the Chiapas lowlands
and reach from the ocean inland 10 to 35 miles.
(3) The Caribbean Lowlands lie between the lowlands of British Honduras
to the north and those of Honduras to the south and stretch inland
from the coastal plain along three stream valleys.
(4) The Central Highlands comprise the largest landform and vary between
95 and 145 miles in width. These highlands have several spurs from
the main Sierra Madre range, including the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes,
Sierra de Chuacus, and Sierra de las Minas.
,-- M E -X I C L-
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a, 'El Cayo
S' "-- I .BRITISH Creek
Si.. L" r HONDURAS CARIBBEAN
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Chiqimu .- I..nt rn tionaU l boundary
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N ' "/ I .1 I'',. ._. National capital
'6 r/..[ .< i+ I- J f ., .
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1 10 20 40 M- 4
Intern tion l bound ry
EL AL "AD 0 10 20 40 Kilomet
PACIFIC OCEAN EL SALVADOI
KEY TO DEPARTAMENTOS
1. PETEN 12. ESCUINTLA
2. HUEHUETENANGO 13. ALTA VERAPAZ
4. TOTONICAPAN 15. GUATEMALA
S. QUEZALTENANGO 16. SANTA ROSA
6. RETALHULEU 17. EL POGRESO Spot heights in Railroad, selecteers
7. QUICHt 18. JALAPA
8. SOLOLA 19. JUTIAPA
9. SUCHITEPLOUEZ 20. IZABAL
10. CHMALTENANGO 21. ZAC APA
11. SACATEPEQUEZ 22. CHIOUIMULA
USDA NEG. ERS 7814-70(7)
Numerous scattered upland plains and basins provide opportunities for
cultivation and grazing. Some 21 active or formerly active volcanoes are
scattered along the cordillera, and over the years have poured volcanic ash
over the Pacific slopes of the mountains. The volcanic peak Tajumulco in
southwestern Guatemala, which is the highest mountain in Central America,
rises 4,200 meters (13,800 feet) above sea level.
The Sierra Madre is the principal drainage divide; the streams flowing
toward the Pacific generally pass through narrow gorges of the Central High-
lands and become deep streams on the coastal plain. Marshes, swamps, and
lagoons are common in places. The relatively narrow Pacific slope is the most
densely settled area of the country. Rivers draining the Central Highlands to
the north generally empty into the Gulf of Honduras, some by way of Lago de
Izabal, Guatemala's largest lake. The longest of these rivers is the Rio
Earthquakes occur frequently in southern Guatemala, particularly from the
department of San Marcos eastward to Cuilapa and Salami. Landslides are common
in the highland area not only as a result of earthquakes, but also following
periods of heavy rainfall. Tsunamis, long-period sea waves produced by under-
water earthquake or volcanic eruption, may also occur along the Pacific Coast.
Climate--The mountains have a marked effect on both the climate and rain-
fall in Guatemala. Although Guatemala lies entirely within the Tropics, its
temperature shows the influence of the Temperate Zone of the Northern Hemi-
sphere as well as that of changes in elevation. The annual temperature range
is small, but there is a seasonal cycle, with April through September being
the warmest months in most of the area and November through February the
coolest--corresponding roughly to the rainy and dry seasons. Two airstreams
dominate; the more important is the northeast trade wind which brings rain to
the northern and central portions of the country, and the second is the moist
air from the Pacific Ocean which is the major source of rain for southern
Three temperature zones are recognized, but they merge into one another
and cannot be sharply delineated. The Peten and coastal lowlands constitute
the "hot land" (tierra caliente) where the mean annual temperature ranges from
about 790F.at sea level to 720F.at about 1,000 meters. Mean daily maximums
are generally in the high 80's and lower 90's. The temperate land (tierra
templada) is in the middle latitudes of 1,000 to 1,900 meters, with mean annual
temperatures dropping to 630F. in the upper reaches. The cold land (tierra
fria) in the higher altitudes has mean annual temperatures ranging from 630F.
to 410F. Here, both the daily and seasonal variations are greater than on the
coast and, at the highest altitude, freezing temperatures occur occasionally
during the dry season. Relative humidity is high throughout much of the country.
Pronounced wet and dry seasons exist in most areas of Guatemala, although
the length and intensity of each vary greatly. In general, each season lasts
about 6 months, but the driest period is from December through March. The rainy
season begins around April in the lowlands and about a month later in the
Central Highlands. Rainfall increases as it moves from the Pacific Ocean to
the mountains, ranging from about 55 inches at San Jose to as much as 200 inches
along the southern mountain slopes. The rainfall is lower on the northern and
eastern sides of the divide, but it follows the same pattern of increasing from
the coast to the higher elevations. In the northern lowlands, the rainfall
ranges from 40 to 80 inches per year.
Wet season rainfall is often torrential in exposed locations, sometimes
averaging 20 inches per month. In addition to the severe storms that are
characteristic of the rainy season, Guatemala's crops are threatened from time
to time by earthquakes and volcanic activity, particularly on the Pacific side
of the divide.
Soils--Guatemala has a wide variety of soil types and a large diversity of
crops. The degree of fertility between regions also varies, and estimates of
soil specialists indicate that almost two-thirds of the country has soils of
little potential for farming. Most of these areas are forested or in pasture,
but where depth of soil permits, there is some cultivation. The Pacific
Coastal Plain and Lower Piedmont contain productive soils that support coffee,
bananas, cotton, and sugarcane as well as pasture grasses. The location of
different soil groups is shown in fig. 2.
The Alluvial soils of the Pacific slopes and plains are fertile and well-
drained, with a loam or silt loam surface and a fine sandy loam subsoil. They
have potential for more intensive use than at present. The Humic Gley soils
on the Pacific plains, on the other hand, are poorly drained and are commonly
too wet for cultivation. With proper drainages however, they could be produc-
tive. The Grumusols are productive soils but difficult to manage since they
are sticky when wet and very hard when dry. With good management they too
could be cultivated. The Ando soils are moderately fertile with loamy surfaces
and subsoils containing slightly more clay than the surface soil. They are
subject to erosion on the steep hillsides, but are intensively cultivated on
the more gentle slopes. The deep, well-drained, friable Reddish Brown Lat
soils are among the most productive of the country, but they are relatively not
widespread.' Somewhat less productive are the Red-Yellow Podzolic soils in
limited areas of central Guatemala, but they respond well to fertilization.
The Terra Rossas (red clays) and the Rendzinas (black or dark brown clays)
occur on the plains and hills in northern Guatemala. Although both types are
shallow, their surfaces are high in organic matter. Lithosolic soils, which
are dominant on the mountains and steep slopes of central Guatemala, have little
potential for farming and are largely forested. Northeast of Puerto Barrios is
another area that has little, if any, potential for agriculture. Acid fibrous
peat, which is interspersed with low ridges of beach sand, is the dominant soil.
Human Resources and Labor Supply
Total population in Guatemala is rising rapidly; the annual rate between
the Agricultural Census years 1950 and 1964 was just over 3 percent. 2/ Some
71 percent of the total was on farms in 1964, a slight drop from the 75 percent
2 This may be partly a reflection of a more complete census in 1964.
*I M F --X
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EL SALVADOR n i1 2n 41
P.1 CIFIC OCEAN "'" L-.ADI r/
KEY TO DEPARTAMENTOS
1. PETIN 12. ESCUINTLA Alluvial soils Lateritic soils
2. HUEHUETENANGO 13. ALTA VERAPAZ
3. SAN MARCOS 14. BAJA VERAPAZ Red-Yellow
4. TOTONICAPAN 15. GUATEMALA Humic Gley soils Podzolic soils
5. QUEZALTENANGO 16. SANTA ROSA
6. RETALHULEU 17. EL PROGRESO Grumusols (dark, i Terra Rossas (red)
7. QUICHI 18. JALAPA Gm ( and Rendzinas (black)
8. SOLOLA 19. JUTIAPA A
9. SUCHITEPtQUEZ 20. IZABAL Lithosolic soils (shallow)
10. CHIMALTENANGO 21. ZACAPA
11. SACATEPiQUEZ 22. CHIQUIMULA Peat and sand NEG. ERS 7815-70(7)
reported in 1950. 3/ By 1970, the percentage of rural population may have
declined somewhat because of what appears to be an accelerating migration from
farm to city.
Supply of farm workers--About 65 percent of the economically active
persons 7 years of age and over were reportedly engaged in activities related
to agriculture, forestry, and fishing in 1964. Almost 30 percent of these
workers were permanently employed in large-scale agriculture, and more than 40
percent were either self-employed farmers or unpaid family workers. The
majority of the farmers in the highlands are on plots too small to support a
family, and many of them migrate to large coffee, cotton, and sugarcane plan-
tations during the harvest season or seek nonfarm employment for part of the
year. Of the 861,000 persons gainfully employed in agriculture in 1964, almost
one-fourth were estimated to have migrated from their own area during part of
the year. An estimated 80,000 to 90,000 persons were permanently employed on
large cotton, coffee, and sugarcane farms.
Working and living conditions--Guatemala has no minimum agricultural wage,
and the daily wage for farmworkers is far below that in other industries.
Although the 1961 Labor Code generally is intended to cover agricultural
workers, a substantial proportion of these workers do not benefit from the
regulations. Because of underemployment of agricultural workers and the number
of farmers on small holdings, the working conditions or wage scales of agri-
cultural workers is not likely to improve in the near future. During slack
periods, many farmers and their families make pottery and weave rugs and
blankets which are sold in the village markets. As mentioned earlier, many
supplement their farm earnings by working on large plantations during part of
the year, and some seek nonfarm employment in the cities.
The permanent laborers live on the farm--usually under a 4-year contract--
and are given a plot of ground on which they can have a house and can cultivate
corn and beans and other subsistence crops for their own use. They work
specified periods for the owner and may receive, in addition to the plot of
ground, cash wages, a part of the owner's crop, rations, or a combination of
these. Wages paid for work vary considerably between cotton, coffee, and sugar-
cane farms, as well as from one farm to another within these classifications.
Agricultural workers and subsistence farmers are poorly housed, clothed,
and fed; consequently they are relatively unproductive. More than three-fifths
of the total population is illiterate, with the percentage in the rural areas
running much higher--85 percent in the highlands. Some 43 percent of the total
population was classed as Indian in 1964. 4/ The Indians speak about 20
3/ Unadjusted data show 66 percent on farms in 1964; however, the census
definition differs between the two censuses. Using the same definition in 1964
as was used in 1950 gives the higher percentage. There apparently was an
increase of 45.7 percent in rural and 77.1 percent in urban population between
1950 and 1964.
4/ The Indian, as classified officially, is one who does not speak Spanish
and who "lives as an Indian." The Ladino, dominant in the economy, is so classi-
fied if he speaks Spanish and has discarded Indian ways, even though he may be
ethnically Indian, of mixed blood, or perhaps a descendant of the Spanish
different languages, although they are mostly of Mayan and Quiche origin. Few
of them speak any Spanish. Since the schools are conducted in Spanish,
attempts to educate the Indian have met with little success. The Indians and
the non-Indians have separate ethnic and social patterns of living, resulting
in two distinct cultures with little mixing of the two.
Per capital food consumption, in terms of energy value, averages about
2,200 calories daily for the country as a whole. 5/ According to a 1965 survey
by the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) (12), $/
about 4 percent of the rural population consumed only 60 percent or less of
daily caloric requirements. Corn is the principal food of the country,
supplying more than half the calories and almost two-thirds of the protein.
It is the basis of tortillas, tamales, pozole (a thick soup of hominy and other
vegetables seasoned with chile peppers), and atole (a thick starchy gruel of
boiled dough seasoned with chile peppers and usually drunk from a clay bowl).
Toasted corn is also ground into a coarse flour, sometimes flavored with honey,
to make pinole. This product can be carried on travels from village to
village. Gruel can easily be prepared from it.
The diet of farmers on small farms and of workers on larger holdings
consists, for the most part, of tortillas, tamales, beans, panela, salt, and
coffee. Only occasionally do they eat meat, eggs, or cheese, and then only
for one meal a day once or twice a week. The INCAP survey showed that the
daily per capital animal protein consumed in Guatemala City was 27 grams (12).
In the rural areas, however, 17 percent of the people consumed 2.5 grams or
less of animal protein per capital. The survey also revealed a serious defi-
ciency of vitamin A and riboflavin. Other on-the-ground surveys confirm that
low-income families in both urban and rural areas have inadequate diets.
Health is poor in many rural areas and, in the lower elevations, malaria is
New food supplements developed by INCAP in 1960 hold promise for improving
nutrition throughout Central America. These supplements are popularly known as
INCAPARINA and are prepared from locally produced grains and other products.
The mixtures contain 25 percent or more protein and are further fortified with
calcium and vitamin A. They can be added to foods such as stews and soups or
can be prepared as hot cereal or gruel. INCAPARINA is being distributed to
local health centers and schools to enrich the diets of patients and school
ORGANIZATION OF AGRICULTURE
The sharp variations in altitude, rainfall, temperature, and soils define
the agricultural regions, the location of crops, and the methods of agricultural
production in Guatemala. In the dry, tropical zone along the Pacific Coast,
5/ Because of inadequate data, it is difficult to calculate food con-
sumption. Hence, specific estimates should be used with caution.
6/ Underscored numbers in parentheses refer to the numbered listings in
the bibliography, pp. 52-53.
there are various combinations of pastures with cotton, rice, bananas, and the
usual corn and beans. A little farther inland is a strip of land utilized for
pastures, sugarcane, cocoa, rice, and subsistence crops. At higher elevations
are lands in coffee, corn, beans, and potatoes, as well as pastures. Higher
still, wheat appears and supplementary crops and pastures continue. Farther
north, as elevations decline, crop and livestock combinations shift again
toward warm weather crops until the relatively unsettled area of Peten is
Use of Farmland and Number of Farms
Approximately one-third of Guatemala's land area is in farms (table 1),
less than 14 percent is considered cropland, and somewhat more than 9 percent
is in pasture. The nonfarm area is largely undeveloped except for scattered
Farms comprise most of the South Zone but only 15 percent of the North
Zone (table 2). The area in farms in Escuintla and Santa Rosa in the South
Zone may be overstated. For example, if a parcel is in more than one municipio
(roughly similar to the U.S. county concept), it is allocated to the principal
one--sometimes resulting in a slightly skewed distribution. In the case of
Escuintla, the area shown in farms is in excess of the total area of the
department. At the other extreme, the North Zone contains the undeveloped
department of Peten which reports only 0.4 percent of its land in farms.
Land in permanent crops, including coffee, expanded from 1950 to 1964, as
did that under fallow, whereas land in annual crops declined. This decline,
however, may be more apparent than real. For example, the data collected by
census takers are based on reports from farmers who, because of little or no
schooling, do not have detailed knowledge about the size of their holdings or
the areas devoted to various commodities. Hence, these reports should be
viewed with caution.
As table 2 indicates, between the 1950 and 1964 Agricultural Censuses,
the number of farms increased, but the area declined. The increase in number of
farms probably results from the fact that the number of farms reported in 1950
did not include parcels of 25 varas (about 21 square meters) or less, whereas
in 1964, no minimum area was specified. A farm (finca) or unit of exploitation
includes one or more parcels, wholly or partly utilized, if they constitute a
technical unit operated under the same direction or administration, using the
same machinery and labor--regardless of whether they are contiguous--but which
are in the same municipio. There were 672,069 parcels included in the 417,344
farms. (The farms do not include parcels used exclusively for forest
activities.) The apparent reduction in the area of farms between 1950 and
1964 probably results from error in one or both sets of data.
Size and Tenure of Farms
Guatemala's farms are still characterized by large holdings (895 hectares
or more) and small farms (less than 7 hectares). Although the number of
Table l.--Land use in Guatemala, 1950 and 1964 1/
Use : Area : Percentage of total
: 1950 : 1964 1950 : 1964
S- 1.000 hectares - Percent -
Land in farms:
Cultivated ........ 1,044 1,065 9.6 9.8
Fallow . ..... : 371 418 3.4 3.8
Abandoned cropland * 57 2/ 0.5 2/
Pastures / . .. : 582 1,014 5.4 9.3
Other 4/. . 1,660 945 15.2 8.7
Total farmland .... : 3,714 3,442 34.1 31.6
Other 4/ ... ... 7,175 7,447 65.9 68.4
Total land use . .. : 10,889 10,889 100.0 100.0
1/ Estimates differ widely on the breakdown of total area into forest, pastures,
cultivated, etc. Tomo I of II Censo Agropecuario (7) states that the data on land in
farms are subject to 5 to 11 percent error. Other sources show 1950 area in farms as
3,720,800 hectares; Tomo I of II Censo Agropecuario, however, repeats 3,714,000 in
comparing 1950 with 1964 data. 2/ Included under Other. 3/ Data for 1950 are for
natural pastures; data for 1964 include natural and semipermanent pastures.
4/ Includes land in forest.
Table 2.--Number and area of farms, by zone, Guatemala, 1950 and 1964
Zone / : Total : Number of farms : Area in farms
: area : 1950 t 1964 : 1950 : 1964
: 1,000 km2 Thousands - 1,000 km2 -
Central . 6.5 51.1 53.2 4.2 3.5
South .... : 7.3 26.0 35.5 7.2 6.8
West .... .. : 19.6 139.4 172.5 9.7 9.6
North .. t 65.1 74.4 97.4 10.7 9.5
East ... .. : 10.3 57.7 58.7 5.3 5.0
Total 2/. . : 108.9 348.7 417.3 37.1 34.4
/ Central Zone: Guatemala, Progreso, Sacatepiquez, and Chimaltenango. South Zone:
Escuintla and Santa Rosa. West Zone: Solola, Totonicapan, Quetzaltenango,
Suchitepequez, Retalhuleu, San Marcos, and Huehuetenango. North Zone: Quiche, Baja
Verapaz, Alta Verapaz, Peten, and Izabal. East Zone: Zacapa, Chiquimula, Jalapa,
2/ Figures do not always add to totals because of rounding.
Source: (Z), Tomo I, p. 29.
Table 3.--Percentage distribution of farms by size group, Guatemala,
1950 and 1964
S1950 : 1964
Size group 1/ Percentage of total s Percentage of total
s farms by-- : farms by--
: Number : Area : Number : Area
- - Percent - - -
Microfarms . 21.3 0.8 20.4 0.9
Subfamily farms . 67.1 13.5 67.0 17.7
Family farms . 9.5 13.5 10.5 18.8
multifamily farms a 2.0 31.4 2.0 36.6
multifamily farms t 0.1 40.8 0.1 26.0
Total . 100.0 100.0 10000 100.0
1/ Microfarm--less than 1 manzana or less than 0.6987 hectares; subfamily
farm--l to 10 manzanas or 0.6987 to 6.987 hectares; family farm--l0 to 64
manzanas or 6.987 to 45 hectares; medium-sized, multifamily farm--64 to 1,280
manzanas or 45 to 895 hectares; large-sized, multifamily farm--1,280 manzanas
and over or 895 hectares and over.
"large" farms decreased between 1950 and 1964, small holdings represented more
than 87 percent of the total in 1964 (table 3). Even the small units are some-
times fragmented, containing two or more noncontiguous parcels.
Most of the small farms are located in the central mountains where the
population is largely Indian. The large farms on the other end of the scale
are the commercial enterprises located principally on the Pacific Piedmont and
coastal plains. Medium-sized farms prevail only in the eastern highlands.
More than three-fifths of the total number of farms were operated by Indians
in 1964, but the area farmed by them was less than one-fourth of the total land
The pattern of land tenure that has developed in Guatemala is a mixture
resulting from royal grants given by the Spaniards and communal Indian village
lands. Village landownership persists to the present day, and land surrounding
a village is assigned to families to use as long as it is tilled. Cultivation
of coffee and bananas brought new forms of land tenure and changes in the
The usual inheritance practice in Guatemala is for land to be divided
equally among the sons and quite often the daughters. Land titles are con
and in many cases "title" in the mind of the inhabitant may be a bundle of
"rights" recognized only by members of the family and local community (10).
Proprietors operated almost 58 percent of all farms in 1964, slightly more
than in 1950. Rented farms declined from 17 to 11 percent of total farms
between 1950 and 1964, and communal holdings decreased from 10 to 5 percent
of the total number.
Guatemala has many types of farms, but generally they can be divided
into three main types%
(1) Large, relatively modern plantations growing crops for export
(2) Small subsistence farms
(3) Small, specialized farms, for example, those growing wheat and rice
in certain areas.
For the most part, the large plantations are located on the Pacific
Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont. Interplanting is not common in plantation
agriculture, except that banana plants are used as shade for coffee trees.
Although relatively modern methods are used for the principal crop of the
plantation, permanent laborers still farm their own plots on the plantation
with old, unimproved methods. Forest or brush is cut and burned and corn is
planted. Many laborers still use the dibble or planting stick. Lands on the
plantations are sometimes rented to Indians in exchange for seeding part of
the land to pasture grass, or for clearing new lands. Two crops a year can
be grown on some of the lower elevations.
Subsistence plots are of two types--both little changed from early Indian
use in precolonial days. Under one type--a migratory, slash-burn cultiva-
tion--small plots within the forest are cleared during the dry season and
the dried branches and logs burned. At the start of the rains, seed and tubers
are planted in holes punched in the ash-covered soil. After 2 or 3 years, the
farmers abandon these plots for 8 to 20 years and move to new plots. This type
of agriculture still exists in parts of the lowlands and on the higher, more
isolated mountain slopes in the highlands.
The second subsistence type--milpa agriculture--is more prevalent. The
milpa is, in fact, a horticultural unit (10). Corn is planted around the hut
in a year-round process. Beans are planted, usually by women, in the same
hill, 2 days after the corn, and squash is planted between the rows. Burning
of the previous year's vegetation during the dry season on the milpa is for the
control of weeds. Fresh corn provides food for the family, usually in August;
later on dry corn again furnishes food for the family and fodder for the
animals. Corn husks are used for wrapper for the tamales and the stalks
support the bean vines, which in turn enrich the soil. Beans furnish fresh
vegetables and later the dry beans are harvested for food. The large leaves
of the squash cover the ground, help control weeds during the growing season,
and later add humus to the soil. Human waste and garbage are strewn around
the hut and, together with animal droppings (mostly from sheep and chickens),
serve to fertilize the soil.
Figure 3.--Wheat, on the far
hillside, is grown in
combination with corn.
Most of the specialized farms are small or of medium-size and are scattered
among the areas devoted to milpa agriculture (fig. 3). Government price
supports are encouraging wheat growing on such specialized farms on higher
slopes up to 3,000 meters in elevation. Operators on these farms are entering
the market economy, but production is still largely a hand operation (2, 16).
Terracing on the steep slopes is practiced on a few holdings, largely By
farmers growing wheat, vegetables, and flowers (fig. 4). Even on specialized
farms, corn, beans, and other subsistence crops are grown for family use.
The use of machinery, fertilizer, improved planting materials and breeding
stock, and pesticides is increasing on the large plantations, and such practices
are beginning to be used on the specialized farms. Most farms still depend,
however, on the hoe and machete as principal farming implements. Mechanized
clearing of land is becoming more common, and some machinery is being introduced
in the tobacco, vegetable, and rice fields, and in the lowlands for corn pro-
duction. Machinery, however, is used principally on cotton, sugarcane, and
Figure 4.--Terracing on the steep slopes is
practiced on a few farms.
Preliminary data from the 1964 Agricultural Census indicate that 92
percent of all farms that year were operated by human power alone, and that
less than 1 percent were operated by both mechanical and human power (7).
As expected, the power machinery was concentrated almost entirely on the large
farms (table 4).
In 1950, only 1,149 farms reported the use of 13,627 metric tons of
commercial fertilizer materials; by 1964, 28.4 percent of the 137,000 farms
reporting fertilizer use were applying 34,000 tons of commercial materials.
Today, lands in bananas, cotton, coffee, and corn receive the major proportion
of the fertilizer. Manure and humus from composts and forest litter are
important in some areas, as are garbage and human waste from the Indian milpas.
Commercial fertilizer used on small farms is concentrated primarily on land
in wheat, vegetables, and flowers.
Data on application of commercial fertilizers, as reported by the United
Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on a plant nutrient basis,
indicate a sharp rise in 1966/67 to 33,300 metric tons--an increase of 77
percent from 1960/61. Consumption in 1967/68, however, fell to 25,000 tons.
According to FAO, all commercial fertilizers are imported.
Improved varieties of rice, wheat, corn, grain sorghums, and beans have
been introduced, although the subsistence milpa type of farm is making the
Table 4.--Use of power on farms, by size of farm and type of power,
Farm size Percentage of total number of farms using--
(hectares) : Mechanical and : Animal and i Human power
: human power : human power : only
S - - Percent - - -
Less than 0.70 : 0.1 2.5 97.4
0.70 to 6.99 . : 0.3 6.7 93.0
6.99 to 45.13 1.8 14.4 83.8-
45.13 to 902.51 : 13.1 26.5 60.4
902.51 and over : 40.2 10.3 49.5
Total . : 0.7 7.0 92.3
1/ Converted from manzanas given in source to hectares; one manzana = 0.6987
change from traditional varieties to the newer hybrids slowly. Mosaic-
resistant sugarcane is generally grown. Several Government agencies are
assisting the farmers to improve their crops. The National Institute for
Agrarian Transformation is instrumental in helping farmers on newly settled
lands to use improved planting materials and to control pests. The Agency
for International Development (AID), the Rockefeller Foundation, and other
agencies have cooperated with the Guatemala Ministry of Agriculture in
developing disease-resistant and high-yielding varieties of various commodities
and in providing extension-type services to encourage their use by farmers.
Guatemala banana production has been plagued by both Panama and sigatoka
diseases; the latter can be controlled by spraying with Bordeaux mixture, but
no permanent control of Panama disease has been found. A Panama-disease-
resistant variety of banana, the Valery, was introduced in 1966. The most
serious coffee disease is American leaf-spot, Mycana citricolor, and the most
destructive insect is leucoptera coffella Guer. Leaf-spot and black rot
(koleroga) are both controlled by copper oxide sprays on progressive farms.
Weed control by herbicides is practiced on some coffee farms, but weeding is
usually done by machete or hoe. The boll weevil, false pink bollworm, and the
armyworm are the principal enemies of cotton. Airplane dusting is used
extensively in the principal growing areas of the Pacific plain to control
Banana producers irrigate their fields, usually by means of overhead
sprays, and some rice, sugarcane, and pasture lands are also irrigated. Both
the number of farms using irrigation water and the area irrigated increased
between the 1950 and 1964 Agricultural Censuses, but in 1964 the irrigated land
accounted for only 3.5 percent of that cultivated (table 5). Most of the
irrigated land was on large farms on the Pacific slopes, but the number of
irrigated small farms more than tripled during the 14 years, and projects are
Table 5.--Number and area of farms in irrigation, by size of farm,
Guatemala, 1950 and 1964
Farm size : Number of farms irrigated : Area irrigated
(hectares) 1/ : 1950 : 1964 : 1950 : 1964
- Number - 1,000 hectares -
Less than 0.70 3,219 10,502 1.8 5.0
0.70 to 45.13 .. : 1,343 2,576 2.5 4.6
45.13 to 902.51 : 654 1,230 10.8 22.0
902.51 and over : 61 83 17.0 20.7
Total . : 5,277 14,391 32.1 52.3
1/ Converted from manzanas given in source to hectares; one manzana = 0.6987
Sources: (Z, 8).
in progress that will benefit additional small holdings, particularly in the
Zacapa area. Drainage in cultivated fields is not a serious problem, but it
is receiving some attention as a means of controlling malaria.
AGRICULTURAL POLICIES AND INSTITUTIONS
The basic agricultural policy of the Government of Guatemala is to attain
and maintain self-sufficiency in output of food crops, to encourage expanded
production of exchange earners, and to improve the living conditions of its
farm population. These goals roughly parallel those outlined in the economic
integration program prepared by the Joint Planning Mission (JOPLAN) for ODECA
(Organization of Central American States) (13). Guatemala's decision to
participate in this integration program reflects an important Government
policy and may affect not only agriculture but also the total economy over
the next 20 years.
In addition to its close relationship with the other countries of ODECA,
Guatemala is a participating member of the Organization of American States and
the United Nations and also maintains close economic and political ties with
the United States.
Development plans--Formal economic and social development plans for
agriculture in Guatemala were prepared during the 1950's on the basis of a
survey conducted in 1950-51 under the auspices of the International Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The first plan covered the period
1955-59. Of the $42 million planned for use in agricultural development, how-
ever, only $18 million was actually spent during the 5-year period (6). The
second plan for the years 1960-64 called for an expenditure for agriculture of
$29 million, but of this, only $9.9 million was actually used. The third
5-year plan for 1965-69 envisaged a massive colonization program and the pro-
motion of industrial nuclei for decentralizing the economy. The Committee of
Nine, established under the Alliance for Progress, reviewed the plan and made
recommendations for revision that were incorporated in a so-called shortrun
plan for 1967-70. This version included plans for improvement in rural educa-
tion, agricultural research and extension, and farm credit, for distribution
of land to farmers, and for increased output of both crops and livestock.
Another plan for rural development, calling for an investment of some $153.7
million, has been announced for 1971-75. Included in it are projects to
increase grain production, diversify agriculture, promote arts and crafts,
and train personnel.
Internal market and price regulations--The Production Development
Institute (INFOP) was organized in 1948 to stimulate agriculture, industry,
and housing, but it was rather ineffective until the late 1950's when it
received funds under the first development plan. The Institute has responsi-
bility for setting minimum producer prices for corn and rice, but in most
years, it has purchased only small quantities of these grains. Hence, the
program it administers has had little stabilizing influence on seasonal price
fluctuations. The Ministry of Economy exercises control over sugarcane prices,
allocates the preferentially priced U.S. sugar import quota among the mills,
and fixes minimum prices for cane that sugar mills must pay. The Ministry of
Agriculture sets the price of local wheat delivered to the mills, and requires
the mills to purchase a specified percentage of their wheat needs from locally
produced wheat. The National Coffee Association (ANACAFE) acts on behalf of
the Government in administering the coffee quota under the International
Coffee Agreement. However, a council for coffee policy established in 1966
gives the Government more control over the actions of the Association than was
formerly the case.
Acreage and production controls as such are not in effect in Guatemala,
but licenses to plant cotton are required from the Ministry of Agriculture.
These licenses, for the most part, ensure that improved seed is used, approved
technical practices are observed, and that spraying is carried out to control
insects. No penalties have been assessed thus far against producers who
exceed their authorized acreage.
Farm credit--Private banks and Government banks and agencies make credit
available for crop and livestock production, and supply about half the agri-
cultural credit annually. 7/ The balance comes from farm suppliers, producer
associations, exporters, and processors. A breakdown of Government and
private bank credit reported by the Bank of Guatemala indicates that more than
half the institutional credit is extended by private banks (table 6). Despite
the emphasis placed on providing credit to small farmers, the largest share of
institutional credit for crops has gone to coffee, cotton, and sugarcane
The banking system is headed by the Bank of Guatemala, which also operates
as the central bank. Other state banking institutions offering credit to
/ No information is available on the actual extent of noninstitutional
credit, and the estimate of one-half the total has no statistical foundation.
Table 6.--Institutional credit granted for agriculture in Guatemala,
by type of lending agency, 1967 and 1968
Year and type of agency : Crops : Livestock : Total J/
- Million U.S. dollar - -
Domestic private banks 23.3 4.9 28.3
State banks . 10.4 4.5 14.8
Foreign private banks : 4.8 1.0 5.8
Total 1/......... : 38.4 10.4 48.9
Domestic private banks : 20.6 5.2 25.7
State banks .. ... 13.3 5.8 19.2
Foreign private banks : 6.6 1.3 8.0
Total 1/.......... 40.5 12.4 52.9
1/ Figures do not always add because of rounding; total includes very small
amounts supplied by so-called "mixed" banks.
Source: (5), pp. 118-119.
farmers include the INFOP, the National Agrarian Bank (BNA), and the National
Mortgage Credit Bank. 8/ The INFOP finances farm requisites, usually lending
to large-scale operators. In addition to its other activities, it aids in the
diversification of agriculture. The BNA specializes in credit for farmers on
small holdings to help increase production and to improve living conditions of
the total population. The National Mortgage Credit Bank is an important
source of agricultural credit to individuals.
The Inter-American Supervised Agricultural Credit Service (SCICAS) extends
supervised credit to small farm operators and recipients of land in rural
development areas. This agency receives funds from the Ministry of Agriculture
as well as loans from the Inter-American Development Bank. It makes long-term
farm improvement as well as short- and intermediate-term production loans.
The principal privately financed banks lending to farmers are the National
Agrarian Commercial Bank and the Agrarian Bank. The latter can lend for
periods up to 5 years, but most of the private banks make only short-term
loans. Long-term credit to individual farmers for the purchase of land or for
permanent improvements is scarce.
Land reform--Since the early days of independence, land tenure problems
have been of economic and political concern in Guatemala. The first agrarian
law was enacted as early as 1825, and in 1871, an agrarian reform was instituted
for the purpose of creating a new "middle class" of farmers (4). Despite these
8/ The Workers' Bank, established in 1966, is a "mixed" bank, financed in
part by private employees.
reforms and other efforts to effect improvement in the structure of land tenure,
it is still characterized by (1) numerous landholdings too small to provide a
livelihood for the operators and their families, and (2) a few extensive land-
holdings. Large numbers of farmworkers are still without land.
Relatively recent efforts at reform include the action by a Communist-
supported Government in 1952. Much of the land owned by the Government was to
be made available to landless farmers, and certain private property was to be
expropriated with reimbursement by issuance of Agrarian Reform bonds. This
Government was overthrown by revolution in June 1954, and new legislation in
1956 revised all previous land reform laws and instituted a more conservative
Rural Development Program. Much of the land distributed under this program
came from the National Farms; part was coffee plantations expropriated from
German Nationals during World War II, and part had been ceded to the Govern-
ment by a private fruit company. Under the 1956 law, some 25,000 titles were
delivered covering 160,000 hectares of land.
Land reform was made a prerequisite for large-scale economic assistance
to Latin American countries as a result of the 1961 Charter of Punta del Este
initiating the Alliance for Progress. Guatemala responded with a new law (Ley
de Transformacion Agraria), effective November 1962, creating a National
Institute for Agrarian Transformation (INTA). The Institute, which functions
under the direction of a national council, has primary responsibility for the
programs of agricultural colonization and settlement. The 1962 law provides
that idle land be subject to increasing land taxes. The number of land titles
and the number of hectares distributed under this program from 1963 to 1969
are shown in the following tabulation:
Year Number of titles Area (hectares)
1963 154 823
1964 61 588
1965 115 248
1966 460 2,591
1967 955 5,997
1968 J/ 746 10,340
1969 1/ 1,636 30,064
1/ Includes 203 community property titles in 1968 and 58 in 1969.
In addition to INTA's activities, the Government has distributed some
lands in the Central Highlands and the Pacific Coastal Plain to individual
farmers for subsistence agriculture, and to agrarian communities to be owned
and cultivated on a communal basis. A few colonization projects have been
undertaken in the Peten. Resettlement of rural population has taken place
that is not related to Government programs, such as the migration of Indians
from the area near Coban to the valleys bordering Lago de Izabal. According
to a 1967 study, the northeastern part of the country, particularly the depart-
ment of Izabal, seems to offer the most promise for settlement projects (15).
Other domestic programs--In addition to the foregoing land reforms,
several other programs and reorganizations are being sponsored by the Govern-
ment. The Ministry of Agriculture was reorganized in late 1964 to make it
function more efficiently. Under this reorganization, separate units were
established for agricultural research, marketing, and quality control--not
only for agricultural products but for inputs as well. Farm extension services
are provided by the Ministry at some 30 offices, and research is conducted at
19 stations. The Service for the Development of the Indigenous Economy (SFEI)
provides extension-type services in areas of concentrated Indian population.
Also, agricultural education is provided at the University of San Carlos, the
National School of Agriculture, and the National Forestry School.
The General Association of Farmers (AGA) is the only farm organization in
Guatemala that is a general association devoted to.agriculture as a whole
rather than to producers of a specialized commodity. It was organized in 1920
but has been active only since 1944. Membership is presently confined almost
exclusively to large-scale producers of commercial items such as coffee,
cotton, and cattle. AGA publishes a monthly review and, in general, supports
measures that encourage improvement in quality of plants and livestock, pro-
vide farm-to-market roads and good systems of schools for farm children, and
improve farm life conditions.
The principal commodity association of producers is the National Coffee
Association (ANACAFE), established by law as an autonomous organization. The
law requires that farmers producing as much as 40 quintals of coffee (of 46
kilograms each) be members. Three organizations promote the production or
marketing of cotton, and associations and cooperatives represent producers
of many other commodities, including wheat, sugar, essential oils, flowers,
rubber, and vegetables. Livestock and poultry producers have also organized.
The Agricultural Cooperative Section of the Ministry of Agriculture is
encouraging the formation of agricultural cooperatives, particularly in con-
nection with land settlement and colonization programs. These cooperatives
assist members in improving production techniques and in marketing their
products. In 1963, there were about 12 agricultural cooperatives with approxi-
mately 1,200 members. Although it is generally known that the number has
increased since then no specific information is available on present numbers
The organization of agricultural workers has progressed slowly, and since
1954, has been restricted by regulations. Only 12 organizations were reported
in 1964, compared with 352 ten years earlier.
Foreign Trade Policies
Guatemala is not a contracting party to the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade (GATT), but is an active member of the Central American Common Market
(CACM), a part of the Central American economic integration program. Two basic
agreements regulating the intraregional and external trade of the CACM countries
are the General Treaty of Central American Economic Integration and the Central
American Convention on the Equalization of Import Tariffs and Charges. The
former provides for free trade among the five countries for all "natural
products of the Contracting States and the products manufactured therein. .,
with a few temporary exceptions. The latter provides for the eventual estab-
lishment of a single external tariff. Agreement has been reached on a common
outside tariff for more than 95 percent of the items in the tariff schedule,
and protocols spell out specific regulations. Integration policies are already
increasing trade among the countries and decreasing trade between individual
CACM countries and traditional trading partners outside the area. However,
recent difficulties between El Salvador and Honduras may have an adverse effect
on the CACM.
The CACM tariff structure is two-column and uses a common nomenclature.
Both specific and ad.valorem duties are applied. The specific duties are
expressed in Central American Pesos--a bookkeeping unit equivalent in value
to the U.S. dollar. Guatemala's own currency, the quetzal, is also equivalent
to the dollar, and is freely convertible, with all foreign exchange transactions
carried out at the official rate. A surcharge of 30 percent of the applicable
import duty is levied on imports originating in non-CACM countries, and an
additional surcharge of 100 percent of the duty may be applied to imports from
countries with which Guatemala has an unfavorable trade balance. Import duties
range from zero on breeding stock to high rates on items considered nonessential.
Wheat imports are regulated, and wheat flour may be imported only under license
for use in specified products. Licenses are also required for imports of poul-
try. Remittances to pay for imports require exchange licenses, but these are
All exports require a license from the Exchange Department of the Bank
of Guatemala, except those included in the General Treaty. Certain exports
must also meet other requirements. Coffee trade is controlled by quotas to
ensure that Guatemala conforms to the provisions of the International Coffee
Agreement to which it belongs. Sugar exports are controlled to meet the quotas
for import into the United States, which receives practically all Guatemala's
sugar exports. Duties are levied from time to time on the principal exports
for revenue purposes, but they may be eliminated on exports going to certain
markets. For example, coffee going to nontraditional markets (countries not
included in the quotas under the International Coffee Agreement) is not subject
to the export tax.
Both technical and financial types of assistance from outside its borders
have been of vital importance to Guatemala in the agricultural development that
has taken place there during the past 15 years. By far the largest share of
foreign aid received in the field of agriculture has come from the United States.
During World War II, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated a
cooperative program with Guatemala to promote the production of rubber and
cinchona--commodities important to the United States--and of other agricultural
commodities important to Guatemala. This program was later expanded and
reorganized several times. AID is currently the principal operating agency in
the cooperative program between the two governments, USDA is still active, and
the Export-Import Bank is a source of financial assistance.
In addition, U.S. private capital assists not only agriculture directly,
but also other segments of the Guatemalan economy that indirectly influence
agricultural development. The United States also finances, in part, inter-
national agencies that have supplied loans and technical assistance to
Guatemala. Several U.S. voluntary agencies (such as CARE) conduct active
programs in Guatemala. Official bilateral financial and technical aid has
also been extended to Guatemala by other countries, including Germany, Austria,
The basic objective of the Agricultural Division of AID/Guatemala (and
its predecessor agencies) is to assist the Ministry of Agriculture in the
research, extension, and development work needed to improve the social and
economic level of the rural sector through programs to increase and diversify
agricultural production and to attain desirable land use. Until 1963, efforts
were concentrated at the technical level to assist in establishing basic insti-
tutions and to train personnel to staff them. Since then, efforts have also
been directed toward policy making and program planning that would result in
maximum utilization of these resources and facilities. Bilateral assistance
in supervised farm credit, started in 1956, has been expanded, and bilateral
aid in land reform was given impetus by the Alliance for Progress in the early
The Inter-American Development Bank has provided funds for (1) farm credit,
(2) an irrigation program to help diversify Guatemala's agricultural output
and raise farm yields, (3) construction of farm access roads, (4) education,
and (5) housing. Agencies of the United Nations have been active in supplying
milk for school children and in helping revise the rural school curriculum.
The FAO has made surveys of the water and forestry resources, worked with the
extension service in testing fertilizers, and is cooperating with the National
Coffee Association in the crop diversification effort. The Rockefeller Foun-
dation's research on corn and other grains in Guatemala has resulted in many
MAJOR CROPS 9/
Coffee is Guatemala's main cash crop, and corn the most important crop
for domestic use, but cotton and sugarcane now provide a significant share of
exports. Essential oils are also important in export trade, and bananas and
plantains are significant crops for both export and domestic use. Corn occupies
by far the largest amount of cultivated area, followed--at a great distance--by
beans. Corn and beans are Guatemala's principal dietary staples, not only on
farms but also in cities. A more diversified agricultural pattern is gradually
9/ Production estimates for Guatemala's cash crops are more reliable than
those for subsistence crops, while statistics on fruit and vegetable output are
markedly incomplete. Information on crop area and production from the 1964
Agricultural Census is still preliminary, and data for later years from avail-
able series do not appear to have been coordinated with the Census figures.
Also, there are large discrepancies among sets of data supplied by various
agencies. Hence, statistics should be viewed as rough estimates, even for
Figure 5.--Guatemala's principal crop is "mild"
coffee important for blending.
evolving in Guatemala with the cultivation of rubber, sesame, sorghum, citrus
fruits, and flowers.
Guatemala's principal commercial enterprise is the cultivation and export
of coffee beans (fig. 5). Coffee, which became the most important export (in
value terms) after the middle of the 19th century, accounted for 30 to 55
percent of Guatemala's total export value during the 1960's despite the growing
diversification of trade. Production of coffee has trended upward, partly as
a result of higher yields per hectare, from less than 70,000 metric tons during
the early 1950's to about 110,000 tons in the late 1960's (table 7). Average
yields range from 400 to 500 kilograms per hectare; on the most efficient
farms, yields have reached 2,000 kilograms per hectare. Guatemala's exportable
output represents only 2.5 to 3.5 percent of world coffee exports, but it
accounts for about 10 percent of the world's "mild" coffee, which is used for
blending with the Brazilian types.
The United States is the major outlet for Guatemala's coffee, and Western
Germany is a strong second market. Other Western European countries bought
most of the rest of the coffee crop until 1965 when Asia and Africa became
Table 7.--Coffee beans Production, exports, and domestic
Guatemala, averages 1951-65, annual 1961-70
Period or : Total : Exportable p :V Domestic
year I/ t production : production 2/ : Exports : consumption 3/
- - 1,000 metric tons - - -
1951-55 : 67.7 54.3 55.9 13.4
1956-60 81.4 69.5 71.5 11.9
1961-65 : 102.2 90.0 86.7 12.2
1961 . : 90.0 78.0 79.0 12.0
1962 . : 102.0 90.0 82.4 12.0
1963 .. : 114.0 102.0 99.8 12.0
1964 .. : 107.4 94.8 77.2 12.6
1965 . : 97.8 85.2 94.9 12.6
1966 . : 123.0 110.1 109.2 12.9
1967 .. : 100.2 87.0 81.3 13.2
1968 . : 111.0 97.5 94.3 13.5
1969 4/ : 104.4 90.0 na 14.4
1970 5/ : 105.0 90.0 na 15.0
na = Data not available.
V/ Production is for crop year ending September 30; trade is for calendar
year. 2/ Exportable production represents total production less domestic
consumption. 3/ As estimated by Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA. 4/ Pre-
liminary. 5/ Forecast.
Sources: Foreign Agricultural Service and attache reports.
The large coffee plantations are located, for the most part, on the Pacific
slopes of the mountains (fig. 6) at elevations of 600 to 1,200 meters where the
climate is warm and moist and the volcanic soils provide good growing condi-
tions. Coffee trees are found, however, as low as 300 meters and as high as
1,800 meters. Frost is a hazard in the higher elevations. Almost 210,000
hectares were reported in coffee in 1963/64--the largest area in the department
of San Marcos--although coffee experts in Guatemala believe that more than
23,000 hectares listed as "new" plantings may in fact be interplantings in the
Arabica Tipica was formerly just about the only variety of coffee grown in
Guatemala, but it is being replaced by Arabica Bourbon, which now accounts for
about half the total crop. The plants are raised from seed in well-prepared
seedbeds, and the seedlings are moved to the field after 12 to 18 months in the
nursery. The plants are then grown under shade in the field and are kept pruned
by a method known as agobio (3), in which young plants are bent over and secured
in the bent position and three or four shoots are allowed to develop from the
base of the plant. When these branches bear cherries, they are bent over and
the cycle repeated.
GUATEMALA: COFFEE AREA, 1963/64
M E X I C '0
NEG. ERS 7816-70(7)
The ripe coffee cherries are harvested by hand, from September through
November at the lower elevations, and from February through April higher up
the mountains. The cherries are processed by the wet method to produce what
is known as washed coffee. Most of the small-scale producers transport their
coffee cherries to the larger plantations for processing, many by burro and
some by human carrier. Small farms (producing 9 metric tons or less of cherry
coffee) account for about 12 percent of the total cherry harvest. The pro-
cessed beans that are ready for market are usually picked up and hauled by
truck to the marketing centers, although part of them move to market by rail.
The major share of the coffee crop is exported--most of it as green coffee.
There is one plant in Guatemala that produces soluble coffee, most of which is
exported (over 70 percent to the United States). Guatemala participates in the
International Coffee Agreement which establishes the quantity of exports going
to "traditional" markets by a system of quotas. ANACAFE, which is authorized
by the Government to regulate the coffee industry, controls exports and over-
sees the application of any quota that governs the internal sale of coffee.
Coffee, both in the bean and soluble, is subject to an export tax if shipped
to traditional (quota) markets, but exports to "new" markets are not taxed.
Part of the receipts from the export tax is used in the crop diversification
effort. ANACAFE is studying the feasibility of diversification, but both the
Association and the Government maintain that the new crops will supplement
rather than replace coffee.
Corn, wheat, rice, and grain sorghum are the important grains grown in
Guatemala, with corn by far the principal one. Corn and beans are the mainstay
of the milpa agriculture of the highland Indian. Corn, rice, grain sorghum,
and beans move freely among the Central American countries in accordance with
the Grain Protocol under the Central American Common Market. Wheat is the only
grain imported in significant quantity from outside the CACM, except in years
of unusually unfavorable weather when corn is imported from the United States.
Corn--Almost all sections of the country produce at least one crop of corn
each year (fig. 7). In the hot, humid lowlands, a second crop is cultivated
the same crop year. Corn, which occupied almost half the cultivated area in
1963/64, furnishes more than half the daily calories and almost two-thirds of
the protein in the average diet. It is eaten not only by the Indians but by a
majority of Ladinos as well. Many varieties have been developed to adapt to
the different altitudes and growing seasons in Guatemala.
Planting and harvesting dates depend on the elevation. The first crop in
the lowlands is planted in April or May and harvested from late July to Septem-
ber; the second crop is planted in September and harvested in January and Feb-
ruary. The principal crop in the highlands is planted in May or June and har-
vested in October and November.
Local production of corn supplies the bulk of domestic consumption in most
years (table 8), but there is usually a small border trade, both import and
export, with other CACM countries. Almost two-thirds of the corn crop was grown
on farms of 7 hectares or less at the time of the Agricultural Census of 1964,
GUATEMALA: CORN AREA, 1964
M E X I C O
' I' '
KEi Tr) C-E-i si5ENrc-
I I I N F ,., "I ,.I 1 I :i C O i .'I-,. ,:I f,,. ,' : l:
uE"'.ii~ Nlr i ": f
4. TOTONICAPAN 12. ESCUINTLA 20. IZABAL
5. QUEZALTENANGO 13. ALTA VERAPAZ 21. ZACAPA TOTAL
6. RETALHULEU 14. BAJA VERAPAZ 22. CHIQUIMULA 525,100 hectares
7. QUICHE 15. GUATEMALA
8. SOLOLA 16. SANTA ROSA
USDA NEG. ERS 7818-70(71
Area, production, and net trade, Guatemala, averages
1955-59 and 1960-64, annual 1965-69
Period : : Yield Produc- Net Available for
or : Area : per t : t e : domestic
year t : hectare : tn rae / consumption 2/
: hectares Quintals - 1,000 metric tons -
1955-59 : 620 7.5 463 +16 479
1960-64 .: 682 8.3 566 +10 576
1965 . 700 9.7 677 +11 688
1966 .. 769 9.5 731 -3 728
1967 . : 748 9.2 690 +9 699
1968 .. .. : 777 9.5 736 +6 742
1969 ...... 836 9.1 759 -2 757
j/ Net trade, + = imports; = exports. 2/ No allowance for changes in stocks.
but a growing percentage of the crop is being produced on the larger farms of
the Pacific Piedmont. The Indians on the small holdings consume the corn they
raise or sell it in the village market (fig. 8). Part of the corn on the
L/ iff j~~i"iJ1 ill iiH)
Figure 8.--Farmers in the Highlands sell their
products in village markets.
Figure 9.--Storage facilities
are usually inadequate; this
unit is located near Escuintla.
larger farms moves to market by truck, and part is sold to plantation owners
for labor rations. Seven to 10 percent of the total crop goes into feed.
Despite the price stabilization program of INFOP I9/, corn prices fluctuate
widely within the crop year because of oversupply immediately after harvest and
scarcity later in the season. Although silos and flat storage units have been
constructed by INFOP and feed plants, estimates of corn loss because of in-
adequate storage range from 8 to 25 percent of the crop, depending on the pro-
ducing zone. Two-thirds of the storage capacity is located in Guatemala City,
with few on-the-farm units available, although some medium- and large-size farms
have concrete or metal silos (fig. 9). Corn cribs made of adobe and set on
raised platforms have been built on some of the small farms, but most farmers
on small holdings store their corn in one corner of the house in temporary bins
made of corn stalks. INFOP plans to enlarge its storage capacity to alleviate
the problem of farmers on small-size plots as well as of those on larger
J/ As discussed earlier, the Production Development Institute's program
has had little stabilizing influence on seasonal price fluctuations.
Table 9.--Wheat: Area, production, and net imports, Guatemala, averages
1955-59 and 1960-64, annual 1965-69
Period or Area Production Net imports
: 1,000 hectares - 1,000 metric tons -
1955-59 34 21 60
1960-64 . 34 23 55
1965 . 36 30 55
1966 . 37 24 58
1967 . 37 34 62
1968. . 39 34 64
1969 . : 40 36 67
Wheat--Production of wheat in Guatemala rose by almost 50 percent from
the late 1950's to the late 1960's, but imports still account for about two-
thirds of total wheat supplies (table 9). Wheat bread is consumed largely in
the cities, and with the growth of urban population, the demand for wheat is
rising. The United States is the principal source of imported wheat. Develop-
ment of the milling industry over the past 20 years has resulted in a shift in
imports from wheat flour to wheat grain.
The land adapted to wheat cultivation is limited by the climate to the
high elevations. Most of the wheat is grown in six highland departments 11/
as a small-farm enterprise (fig. 10). The major part of the crop is planted
in April-June, but is not harvested until November. Planting and harvesting
are still performed mainly by hand, but the National Union of Wheat Producers
and INFOP encourage farmers to use improved seed and to fertilize their fields
in an effort to raise yields per hectare.
A Wheat Import Control Board sets import quotas for the mills and requires
a specified quantity of domestic wheat to be purchased before the mills can
import wheat. The mills must also pay a fixed price for domestic wheat which
is considerably higher than the price at which imported wheat can be delivered
to the mill. In early 1970, the differential was about $2 per 100 pounds. In
addition, the mills are required to pay 10 cents per 100 pounds of wheat
imported into a fund used for controlling wheat imports. Mills have their own
modern storage facilities which are adequate to handle both domestic and
Other grains--Rice production in Guatemala is rising and small quantities
of grain are exported from time to time. The average output in 1960-64 was
about 16,000 metric tons of rough rice; by 1969, some 25,000 tons were produced.
In the 1964 Census year, about 44 percent of the rice was produced in the north-
east departments of Izabal and Alta Verapaz, and some 49 percent in five
11/ Quetzaltenango, San Marcos, Totonicapan, Chimaltenango, Huehuetenango,
Figure 10.--Wheat is a small farm operation in Guatemala;
field of wheat on the hillside.
departments on the Pacific plains and lower Piedmont. The rice area in the
northeast is being developed rapidly. Farmers in that region are using certi-
fied seed and receiving supervised agricultural credit for the purchase of
seed and machinery. INFOP establishes minimum prices that the mills must pay
producers for rough rice. In years of short supply, such as 1966, the Ministry
of Economy authorizes INFOP to import rice from outside the Central American
Common Market. Otherwise, rice trade, both import and export, is carried on
within the CACM.
Grain sorghum is in demand as feedstuff. Output of this commodity has
apparently risen from some 13,000 metric tons in the late 1950's to about
35,000 tons during the late 1960's. 12/ Small quantities of this grain are
exchanged with other CACM countries, resulting in net imports in some years
and net exports in others.
Small amounts of oats and barley are grown in Guatemala, but they are of
relatively little importance.
Black beans are the principal pulse, and Guatemala produces enough to meet
most of its total consumption needs. Small quantities are imported from El
W2/ Because of inconsistent production data, only approximate figures
Salvador and Honduras in most years, but small quantities are also exported to
El Salvador and Costa Rica. Production data show an upward trend during the
1960's, although total output is probably not reflected in the statistics
shown in the following tabulation.
Period or year Area Production
(1,000 hectares) (1,000 metric tons)
1955-59 42 26
1960-64 56 35
1965 69 40
1966 73 51
1967 107 69
1968 107 69
1969 107 62
Beans are cultivated by practically all small-scale farmers, but produc-
tion probably is not reported by all of them. Only one-quarter of the farms
enumerated in the 1950 Agricultural Census reported on bean production, for
example, and only 22 percent reported on bean production in 1964.
About 60 percent of the total bean harvest consists of pole beans grown
with corn. Bush beans can be cultivated with machinery on a commercial scale,
but most bush beans, like pole beans, are still grown for the most part on
small farms. Planting takes place in May-June and harvesting from August
through January. Research is being conducted on selection of varieties, fer-
tilization, cultivation practices, and control of pests. Recommended varieties
for each zone of the country are gradually being adopted.
Broad beans and dry peas are also grown in small amounts. Estimated out-
put of broad beans during the 1960's was in excess of 5,000 tons in most years,
but dropped to 2,000 in 1967; production of dry peas averages about 1,000 tons.
Small quantities of henequen, kenaf, and letona fiber are grown in
Guatemala, but the principal fiber is cotton (fig. 11). During World War II,
the Government encouraged abaca output in an effort to have a Western Hemisphere
supply of this fiber; production of abaca declined in the 1950's, however,
and was abandoned altogether in the early 1960's.
Cotton production and export rose sharply from the early 1950's to a peak
in 1966 (table 10). In 1962, the value of cotton exports surpassed that of
bananas, and cotton is now Guatemala's second largest export, although export
earnings are declining as a result of smaller crops in recent years. The major
part of the crop is exported, in contrast to the situation 10 years ago when
Guatemala imported cotton. Japan is by far the principal outlet, with Italy,
West Germany, and Portugal major customers. The outlet markets shift in
relative importance from year to year. In 1967 and 1968, several new markets
developed, notably Chile, the Central American Common Market, and Norway.
Figure ll.--Cotton is an important export for Guatemala;
this cotton field is ready for harvest.
Table l0.--Cotton: Area, and lint production and exports, Guatemala,
averages 1949/50-1963/64, years 1964/65-1969/70
: :Yield : Produc- : Exports Available for
Period or year : Area : per : tion / domestic
: t hectare : :consumption /
: hectares Quintals - 1,000 metric tons -
1949/50-1953/54 : 6.7 4.0 2.7 0.5 2.2
1954/55-1958/59 : 18.9 6.2 11.7 8.0 3.7
1959/60-1963/64 : 48.7 7.7 37.4 33.4 4.0
1964/65 .. : 90.9 7.5 67.9 63.8 4.1
1965/66 . : 115.1 7.5 86.0 82.0 4.0
1966/67 .. 84.8 7.4 63.1 57.0 6.1
1967/68 . : 88.1 8.8 77.5 67.6 9.9
1968/69 . .. : 92.9 7.8 72.9 na na
1969/70 . : 76.9 6.7 51.2 na na
= Data not available.
No allowance for changes in stocks.
1969/70 = 1970.
Most of the cotton is grown on large-size farms in the lower elevations
of the Pacific Coastal Plain. The department of Escuintla leads in production,
with twice as much seed cotton output as Retalhuleu, the second largest pro-
ducer. These two departments supplied more than 90 percent of the total output
in 1965/66. Two-thirds of the cotton acreage is on farms with 1,000 or more
acres each, and (including cotton acreage on family-type holdings) the average
cotton farmer had almost 1,000 acres of cotton during the past few years.
Considerable progress has been made in improving the efficiency of cotton
production as a result of work done by private producers, FAO technicians, and
government agencies. Machinery is used in much of the production process, and
heavy equipment is used in clearing new land. The use of commercial fertilizer
is spreading, especially in the older cotton areas of Escuintla.
Cotton planting usually occurs during July-August, and harvesting during
December-March, but these time periods may be extended, depending on the
weather. The type of cotton is American-Upland, mostly Deltapine Smooth Leaf,
Deltapine 15, and Stoneville 7.
Insects cause severe damage to cotton crops in some years, although the
commercial farmers on large holdings spray extensively to control them. Rains
during the growing season make frequent applications of insecticides necessary.
Disease is a less serious problem, but there have been some instances of Leaf
Spot, Black Arm, and Verticillium Wilt.
The Government requires that producers obtain licenses to plant cotton to
ensure that they follow prescribed practices in the production and importation
of seed, and that they spray their fields and turn under crop residues to reduce
the carryover of insects. Cotton cooperatives provide a variety of services
for their members. These include importing insecticides, seed, and fertilizer;
operating a machinery pool; providing facilities for applying insecticides by
airplanes; procuring credit; conducting research; disseminating information on
research and production practices; and providing ginning, grading, and marketing
The Government fostered cotton production in the early 1950's by setting
prices and advancing credit through the INFOP. As production expanded, price
support was discontinued, and credit is now granted by national banks and
private sources. Since Guatemala has other land that could be devoted to cotton,
further expansion in cotton production will depend on the market situation
rather than physical limitations.
Production of sugarcane has risen substantially over the past 10 years,
with raw sugar becoming one of Guatemala's principal exports (table 11). Before
World War II, Guatemala was a net exporter of sugar; after the war, it became
a net importer. But since Cuba lost its sugar quota in the preferentially
priced U.S. market, Guatemala has increased its production of raw sugar for
export to the United States.
Most of the cane for commercial sugar production (fig. 12) is grown on the
low plains of the Pacific Coast, but cane (used largely for noncentrifugal sugar)
Table ll.--Sugar: Production and net exports, Guatemala, averages
1955-59 and 1960-64, annual 1960-69
Period : Se Raw sugar N : Available for
or Sugarcane production Net : consumption 2/
year I/ : production : Centri- :Noncentri-: exports : Centri- :Noncentri-
: : fugal : fugal raw : fugal : fugal
- - - 1,000 metric tons - - -
1955-59 1,156 61 56 61 56
1960-64 : 1,543 112 37 28 84 37
1960 1,236 70 44 1 69 44
1961 1,380 85 42 7 78 42
1962 ... : 1,764 121 36 31 90 36
1963 : 1,917 138 36 47 91 36
1964 . 1,418 144 29 55 89 29
1965 . 1,717 132 29 32 100 29
1966 . 1,963 158 29 52 106 29
1967 . : 2,532 181 42 61 120 42
1968 4/. : 2,193 145 48 56 89 48
1969 4/. : 2,674 178 48 na na 48
na = Dat
a not available.
year ending June 30; trade calendar year. 2/ No allowance for
stocks. V/ Insignificant amount. 4/ Preliminary.
Figure 12.--Sugarcane in a field between Retalhuleu and Escuintla.
can be grown at the lower elevation in almost every department. Cane is usually
planted in April-May and left some 18 months before the first crop is harvested.
Cutting begins in November and continues until March-June, depending on the
length of time required to process the available cane. Centrifugal sugar comes
mostly from large plantations, and the cane is processed at commercial mills.
Many small mills (trapiches) in rural areas and villages extract the cane juice
and boil it down into a brown sugar cake known as panel. This noncentrifugal
product is preferred in the rural districts; centrifugal sugar is produced
largely for export and the city market. Guatemala's sugarcane also produces
some 12 to 13 million gallons of blackstrap molasses, half of which is exported
and the remainder used locally by the feed and alcohol industries.
Fruits and Vegetables
Bananas are the principal commercial fruit grown in Guatemala, but plan-
tains are also important and citrus exports are providing a new source of
foreign exchange. Citrus production, principally oranges, reached a total of
about 56,000 metric tons in 1967/68, and 1968 exports amounted to more than
500 tons. Many different kinds of fruits and vegetables are grown, but with
the exception of potatoes, the quantity is not large. Fruits and vegetables
are sold in village and city markets, for the most part, by farmers who sell
in small lots. Fruits are included in the Government's development plans for
agriculture, which project a greatly expanded output.
Bananas and plantains--Commercial production of bananas was started in
the early years of the 20th century, and by 1947 exports had reached 338,000
metric tons. Disease, wind damage, and other hazards have made the industry
an erratic enterprise during the past 20 years. Bananas and plantains are
grown for food throughout the inhabited lowlands and intermountain valleys.
Bananas were the second export (in value terms) until 1962, but by 1967,
dropped to fifth place. 13/ Production of bananas was estimated at 145,000
tons in 1969 and that of plantains at about half this figure. Exports of
eating bananas dropped to a low point in 1965, but shipments rose to 138,000
tons in 1968, as shown in the following tabulation (in 1,000 metric tons):
Period or year Production Exports
1955-59 165 129
1960-64 179 141
1965 117 34
1966 80 63
1967 90 44
1968 140 138
1969 145 na
na = Data not available.
I/ Export data may be understated in 1967; another series indicates an
export of 95,000 tons. / Preliminary.
13/ Value of banana exports is variously reported. As used here, it
refers to all bananas and plantains and follows the valuation reported by the
Secretariat Permanente del Tratado General de Integracion Economico Centroamerico
(SIBCA) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
More than half the banana exports usually go to West Germany, and most of
the rest go to the United States. Plantains are also exported, averaging more
than 15,000 metric tons during 1966-68.
Commercial production of bananas was centered first on the east coast in
the Rio Motagua Valley. To escape Panama disease during the 1930's, commercial
plantations were developed on the Pacific Coast, and during the 1950's and
early 1960's, most of the exports came from these plantations. In the past 5
years, commercial production has shifted again to the east coast. In addition
to the operations of a large fruit company, there is a proposal for planting
bananas on 10,000 hectares of land in northeastern Guatemala. Credit facilities
are being made available and farmers have organized a cooperative that will
coordinate various elements of the undertaking, but the project is developing
The Valery variety of bananas is replacing the traditional export variety--
Gros Michel. The Valery is marketed in the United States as the "Chiquita"
banana. Prior to the 1960's, bananas were exported on the stem. Since 1960,
hands of bananas are being cut from the stem and packed in boxes of 42 pounds
each for export shipment.
Vegetables--Most farmers grow a few vegetables for home use, but fresh
vegetables are not important in the diet of Guatemalans. Garlic, onions,
cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, and a variety of other vegetables are produced for
the city market, and a few farmers specialize in raising fresh vegetable crops,
especially around Guatemala City. Squash is widely grown in association with
the corn-bean cultivation of the milpa, but estimates of production (2,500
metric tons) probably understate the size of the crop.
Root crops, particularly potatoes and yuca, are important in several areas
of the country. About 20,000 metric tons of potatoes are grown annually in the
highlands where they are a favorite food crop. Yuca is important in Alta
Verapaz, San Marcos, Santa Rosa, and Retalhuleu, but estimates of output by
different sources for a single year vary widely from 3,000 to 45,000 metric
Food crops--A variety of other food crops are grown, the principal ones
being oilseeds and cocoa beans. Spices, especially cardamom seed, are also
becoming a significant source of exchange earnings. Estimates of cocoa bean
production fluctuate widely, but range between 500 and 800 tons annually. The
major part of the crop is exported, either as beans or in processed forms,
principally to the United States. Most of the cocoa is grown in the depart-
ments of Guatemala, Suchitepequez, and Escuintla.
Cottonseed production has risen with the rapid growth of the cotton
industry, and in some years this product is exported. Year-to-year fluctuations
in production follow those of cotton. In 1965, for example, 145,000 metric tons
were produced, but in 1969, output dropped to 83,000 tons. Because of the short
crop in the latter year, exports of cottonseed were restricted to assure a
supply to the local oil crushing plants. Production of sesame and peanuts is
Table 12.--Essential oils: Production and exports, Guatemala, average
1960-64, annual 1965-67 1/
Period Production: Total
or year : Citronella t Lemongrass oil : Total : exports
:- - - Metric tons - - -
1960-64 267 457 724 782
1965 e 373 462 835 1,063
1966 : 372 499 871 796
1967 ... : 297 444 741 937
1/ Production and trade data from different sources; exports exceed reported
output in most years.
rising and sesame seed is being exported. Output of sesame and peanuts in 1967
was estimated at about 4,000 and 1,000 tons, respectively.
Nonfood crops--Essential oils, rubber, tobacco, and flowers--nonfood
crops--are important to certain sections of Guatemala. Favorable prices of
essential oils during and after World War II encouraged producers to expand
their output. Citronella and lemongrass oils became significant export prod-
ucts. Usually four crops of the grasses are harvested each year from planta-
tions on the Pacific Coastal Plain and Lower Pacific Piedmont. The Associa-
tion of Essential Oil Producers establishes prices and guarantees quality of
the product. Practically all the oil produced is for export, as shown in
Tobacco is a relatively minor commodity, but is important to growers in
the departments of El Progreso, Jalapa, Guatemala, and Zacapi. Harvesting dates
for tobacco vary with the location: Guatemala--November to February; Jalapa--
October and November; and in the east and southeast tier of states--January to
May. Output of tobacco increased from 1,200 to 4,000 metric tons from the late
1940's to 1967, but dropped sharply in 1969 to 2,150 tons. Imports declined
from more than 400 tons in the 1950's to less than 90 tons in 1967, and in the
latter year, Guatemala exported more than 300 tons of tobacco to West Germany,
the Netherlands, and other CACM countries. Guatemala imported tobacco mainly
from the United States for blending with domestic types to produce a better
grade of cigarette.
Rubber production rose sharply during the 1960's to almost 4,000 metric
tons in 1969. USDA began experimentation during World War II to develop im-
proved strains of disease-resistant rubber trees which would provide a Western
Hemisphere source of rubber. The United States has continued to provide tech-
nical assistance through AID, and the Guatemalan Government is emphasizing
rubber as a part of the diversification effort. The principal producing zone
is on the south Pacific Coast, which accounts for some 85 percent of total
plantings. Domestic demand for rubber is rising, and demand for Guatemalan
rubber output will come also from the other CACM countries since Guatemala is
the seat of a tire factory that has been established as an "integration"
industry under the General Treaty for Central American Economic Integration.14/
The cultivation of fresh flowers is becoming an important small-farm
enterprise in Guatemala. The flowers supply the domestic market and are e
by air to other Central American countries and the United States. The volume
and value of flower exports for 1966-68 are shown in the following tabulation
(in metric tons and 1,000 U.S. dollars):
Year Volume Value
1966 494 393
1967 858 630
1968 344 276
LIVESTOCK AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTS
Livestock and livestock products account for more than one-fourth of agri-
culture's contribution to the gross domestic product of Guatemala. Cattle
are by far the principal livestock, but hogs, sheep, and goats are important
to certain areas, and the number of poultry is increasing. The Spaniards
brought animals to Guatemala during the colonial period and granted large
tracts of land to the colonists for cattle grazing. These large cattle hold-
ings still predominate. Hogs and chickens became household animals and are
still concentrated on smaller holdings. Small sheep and goats adapted readily
to the highlands where they are still located.
Beef is Guatemala's principal livestock product entering foreign markets.
A variety of livestock products are also imported, with tallow the most im-
portant product in 1967 and 1968.
Numbers and Distribution
In 1969, 1.4 million head of cattle were estimated to be in Guatemala. 1,/
Estimated numbers of hogs indicate a decrease between 1950 and 1964 and an
increase since 1964. 6 / The long-term trend of sheep numbers apparently has
been upward, although the 1964 Agricultural Census data do not confirm this.
14/ There is also a tire factory in Costa Rica.
A/ According to cattlemen, this figure probably understates the cattle
population, but there is general agreement that cattle numbers have increased
little, if any, since 1964.
14/ Data on livestock numbers should be used with caution. The 1950
Agricultural Census enumerated only animals on farms; the 1964 Agricultural
Census counted animals not on farms separately; the year-to-year estimates for
intercensal years and for 1965-69 probably are intended to include all animals,
but this is not clear from the sources used. This uncertainty raises difficult
problems, particularly with the data for hogs, since more than one-third of the
total are not on farms but are kept around nonfarm dwellings.
Table 13.--Livestock on farms, Guatemala, averages 1950-64, annual 1950,
Period :: : : : Mules
or : Cattle : Hogs : Sheep : Goats : Horses : and
year I/ : : : : : : donkeys
S- - - 1,000 head - - -
1950-54 : 1,118 428 803 90 232 68
1955-59 : 1,063 393 791 85 172 65
1960-64 : 1,139 370 710 88 156 61
1950 : 919 424 716 79 186 69
1964 . : 1,202 375 569 92 176 74
1965 : 1,384 495 794 89 155 53
1966 . : 1,328 543 818 90 155 53
1967 . : 1,242 580 820 91 155 53
1968 . 1,371 662 800 2/ 96 155 53
1969 . 1,395 728 2/ 550 2/ 85 2/ 155 53
./ In 1950 and 1964, census data taken in April; other
of March for 1950-67 and May for 1968-69. Series are not
and should be used with caution. 2/ Estimated.
years, estimates as
Sources: (Z) Tomo III, and Agricultural Attache Report No. GT0008,
February 20, 1970.
Goats are of relatively minor importance. There are an estimated 6 to 7 million
head of poultry, the greater part being chickens. Mules and donkeys are used
as beasts of burden, and horses mainly for riding by foremen and cowhands,
although the Indians of Huehuetenango own substantial numbers of horses (table
The principal cattle regions in Guatemala are located in the southern
Pacific plains (fig. 13). Work animals are concentrated in the highland
regions, but are also important in other areas. Quiche, Alta Verapaz, and
Huehuetenango are the principal hog-raising departments, having more than one-
third of the total number of hogs in 1964. Commercial hog production, however,
is located near Guatemala City. Three-fourths of the total numbers of sheep
and goats are in the departments of San Marcos, Huehuetenango, and Quiche.
About two-thirds of the poultry is on farms, the rest being kept for home food
supply in both rural and urban areas. Large commercial poultry farms have
been established near Guatemala City to provide the city markets with meat and
eggs. Although most farm families raise some poultry, there is a somewhat
greater concentration in the southeastern part of the country.
Most of Guatemala's cattle are criollo or so-called native breed, but
improved breeds--principally Brahman and Santa Gertrudis crosses--are increasing
in number. Breeding stock is imported, mainly from the United States. Feeder
cattle are imported from other Central American countries, mostly from El
GUATEMALA: NUMBER OF CATTLE, 1964
M E X I C O
0 10 20 40 Mles,
0 1020 o0 K1om1 l>r1
KEY TO DEPARTAMENTOS
Each dot represents
1. PETEN 9. SUCHITEPMQUEZ 17. EL PROGRESS
2. HUEHUETENANGO 10. CHIMALTENANGO 18. JALAPA 500 head
3. SAN MARCOS 11. SACATEPIQUEZ 19. JUTIAPA Cattle on farms
4. TOTONICAPAN 12. ESCUINTLA 20. IZABAL
5. QUEZALTENANGO 13. ALTA VERAPAZ 21. ZACAPA TOTAL
6. RETALHULEU 14. BAJA VERAPAZ 22. CHIQUIMULA 1,111,300 head
7. QUICHE 15. GUATEMALA
8. SOLOLA 16. SANTA ROSA
USDA NEG. ERS 7817-70(7)
Salvador and Honduras, for fattening on the Pacific Coastal plains. Hogs are
exchanged with those of other Central American countries, and breeding stock
is imported from outside the area to upgrade the local hogs. There has been
little or no trade in horses, mules, and donkeys since the late 1950's, and
only moderate trade in sheep and goats.
Livestock and Pasture Management
Considerable improvement in pastures and in the quality of livestock has
occurred in recent years on the larger ranches of the Pacific coastal areas.
Some of the more progressive ranchers are preparing ensilage of corn and sor-
ghum or hay from pangola and other grasses, and a few have constructed irriga-
tion facilities that provide water for pastures during the dry season. Farmers
on the medium- and large-sized ranches are buying breeding stock to improve
their herds. The annual National Livestock Exposition encourages this trend
The Ministry of Agriculture and international agencies cooperate in pro-
motional programs to improve the livestock industry, but the major portion of
the stock continues to be criollo. Cattle require 4 to 5 years to reach
slaughter weight. Programs for aiding the livestock industry have been
included'in the Government's various economic development plans, but none of
these programs has been implemented. The Bank of Guatemala is reviewing a
proposed feasibility program for the Pacific plain that would provide technical
and financial assistance to ranchers on medium- and large-sized holdings.
Commercial poultry farmers around Guatemala City raise purebred stock and
feed them with well-balanced rations, but poultry on the smaller farms and in
rural and urban yards receive little attention.
Progressive ranchers have pest control programs, and dairy herds around
Guatemala City and Escuintla are kept relatively free of disease, but the
majority of the cattle are not protected by effective control programs. The
cattle are plagued by viruses, parasites, and insects, but are free of aftosa
(foot-and-mouth disease). Cholera is the most serious disease among hogs, and
occasional epidemics cause heavy losses. Little effort is made to control
diseases of sheep, and botflies (Oestrus ovis) often cause serious damage.
During the 1960's, Guatemala became a net exporter of livestock products
(in value terms) owing to the rapid rise of beef exports to the United States.
In 1968, beef exports ranked third in value following coffee and cotton. In-
edible tallow is the principal livestock product imported in recent years, and
dairy products (largely nonfat dry milk) are still imported. Lard imports
were large through the 1950's, but have ceased entirely with the expansion of
Guatemala's vegetable oil industry. Specialty meats, extracts, and baby food
continue to be imported for city markets.
Beef is exported frozen and boneless. As of early 1970, only two of some
30 slaughtering establishments were certified to export meat to the United
States, which takes the bulk of the beef. The beef moves by refrigerated
truck-trailer to a port and most of it is shipped by converted landing ship
tanks (LST's) to Florida. Small shipments also go to other CACM countries,
principally El Salvador.
Reported cattle slaughter rose from an average of 175,000 head in 1955-59
to 320,000 in 1969, and beef and veal from 30,000 to 54,000 metric tons.
Reported pork production is about 8,000 tons, and output of mutton and goat
meat is much less, totaling some 400 tons. Poultry meat output is rising and
is estimated at about 35,000 tons.
Tallow production of about 5,000 metric tons supplies less than one-fourth
of total consumption, but lard output of some 4,500 tons allows small exports
to other Central American countries. Estimates of total fluid milk output
vary, but one series 17/ indicates production increased from 144,000 to 200,000
tons from 1960 to 1969. The quality of dairy products supplied to the Guatemala
City market is improving. Four pasteurizing plants serve the capital city, and
a fifth, which is the only manufacturer of powdered milk, is located near the
El Salvador border.
Honey has been an important minor export item for many years; its annual
output is estimated at about 2,500 tons. Most of the product is exported,
mainly to West Germany, although small quantities go to other West European
countries and to the United States. The traditional producing areas on the
Pacific Coast are reportedly declining in importance because of heavy insec-
ticide applications on cotton fields which are destroying the bees. The decline
in output there, however, is being offset by new beehive colonies in the Peten
Guatemala's merchandise trade showed a surplus of exports over imports
during the first half of the 1950's; in the middle of the decade, however,
coffee prices declined sharply and export earnings fell. Beginning in 1955,
import value exceeded export value every year with the exception of 1966, even
though export earnings have improved since 1962. Agricultural commodities
provide the greater part of the exports, although they declined from approxi-
mately 96 percent of the total in the mid-1950's to about 75 percent in the
late 1960's. Agricultural items, on the other hand, are a relatively minor
share of total import value compared with their importance in export trade.
They represented only 13 percent of total import value in 1967.
Coffee is Guatemala's chief export (table 14), and cotton, meat, and sugar
exports have forged ahead of bananas--formerly the second most valuable
12/ Economic Research Service, USDA.
Table 14.--Value of principal exports, Guatemala, 1963-68
Commodity 1963 : 1964 : 1965 : 1966 : 1967 : 1968 1/
: - - Million quetzals/ - -
Coffee beans .. 77.1 71.1 91.7 100.1 68.4 73.4
Cotton lint . : 24.3 32.1 34.4 44.5 31.5 40.1
Sugar ... : 6.1 8.5 4.2 6.0 8.9 8.0
Beef . . : 4.4 3.7 4.6 5.3 8.0 8.6
Bananas /. ... .. : 9.1 6.9 2.3 4.6 3.2 5.1
Other 4/. .. .. : 30.5 42.0 48.6 65.6 77.9 87.0
Total exports /. .. : 151.5 164.3 185.8 226.1 197.9 222.2
i/ Preliminary. 2/ 1 quetzal = US$1. 3/ Excludes adjustment for under-
valuation of bananas. Other available series include such adjustment, but they
differ from each other as to the extent of the adjustment. 4/ Includes
soluble coffee and extracts, sugar preparations, other meat, and plantains,
which are sometimes included with the products listed here. See tables 16 and
Sources: 1963-67: Pan American Union, Boletin Estadistico, Sept. 1969;
1968: Agricultural Attache Report No. GT0001, January 28, 1970.
export. 18/ Cotton and cottonseed were exported for the first time in 1954,
and boned beef in 1959. Exports of cottonseed oil and cake, essential oils,
flowers, vegetables, and fruits other than bananas are accounting for an
increasing percentage of total exports.
The United States is the principal market for Guatemala's agricultural
exports, followed by Western Europe (table 15). West Germany is the most im-
portant country of the Western European Markets (taking 45 percent of the total
agricultural exports--in value terms--in 1967), and Japan is the largest foreign
outlet for Guatemala's cotton exports. The Central American Common Market has
become more important as a market for other products as well as for agricultural
commodities. The four other members of the CACM bought 29 percent of all
Guatemalan exports (value terms) in 1967, compared with only 11 percent in 1963.
Nonagricultural raw materials and consumer goods make up about 70 percent
of total imports. Wheat usually ranks highest in value of agricultural imports
(table 16), although in some years live animals rank first. Other grains and
preparations, dairy products, and tallow lead in value among a wide range of
other imports. Corn is imported in years of poor growing conditions in
1g/ Total export value and value of banana exports as reported by the
Directorate of Statistics, Guatemala. These values do not agree with adjusted
valuation reported by the Bank of Guatemala, which considers bananas undervalued;
the Bank uses adjusted data for balance of payments purposes. The Bank's adjust-
ments do not always agree with the adjustments made by the International Monetary
Table 15.--Agricultural exports, by commodity and principal markets, Guatemala, 1967
Commodity : United : Western : CACM : Other Total :Percentage
: States : Europe : : : : of total
: f.o.b. value, 1,000 U.S. dollars Percent
Coffee & preparations : 34,647 31,937 26 2,983 69,593 46.8
Cotton . .: 285 12,530 515 2/ 18,163 31,493 21.2
Sugar & preparations : 9,701 0 2,504 33 12,238 8.2
Meat & preparations : 7,626 0 1,158 323 9,107 6.1
Bananas & plantains : 1,919 1,816 690 1 4,426 3.0
Other fruits, nuts, vege-:
tables, & preparations : 185 0 5,816 2 6,003 4.0
Other ......... : 2,093 6,036 6,906 825 15,860 10.7
Total ........ : 56,456 52,319 17,615 22,330 148,720 100.0
Percentage of total by
destination ... : 38.0 35.2 11.8 15.0 100.0
J/ Central American Common Market includes El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica,
Nicaragua, and Guatemala. 2/ Japan, $14,835,000.
Source: Anuario Estadistico Centroamericano de Comercio Exterior, 1967 (SIECA).
Table 16.--Agricultural imports, by commodity and principal origin, Guatemala, 1967
Commodity : United : CACM / : Western : Other Total Percentage
: States : :Europe : of total
: c.i.f. value, 1,000 U.S. dollars Percent
Wheat & flour . : 5,179 20 0 256 5,455 16.9
Other grains &
preparations : 694 2,090 117 827 3,730 11.5
Live animals . : 610 5,333 0 25 5,968 18.5
Dairy products .. : 328 29 1,747 15 2,119 6.6
Tallow ......... : 2,417 4 0 0 2,421 7.5
Other fats & oils : 178 1,786 187 5 2,156 6.7
Other animal products : 326 202 295 121 944 2.9
Feedstuff . : 1,508 513 35 12 2,068 6.4
Fruits, nuts, vegetables,:
& preparations .. : 936 632 341 131 2,040 6.3
Rubber . ..... : 514 3 116 767 1,400 4.3
Other ......... : 1,402 860 564 1,172 3,998 12.4
Total 2/ . : 14,092 11,474 3,401 3,332 32,299 100.0
Percentage of total by
origin . 43.6 35.5 10.5 10.3 2/ 100.0
L/ Central American Common Market includes El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica,
Nicaragua, and Guatemala. 2/ Figures do not always add because of rounding.
Source: Anuario Estadistico Centroamericano de Comercio Exterior, 1967 (SIECA).
The United States is the principal supplier of wheat, tallow, and feed-
stuffs to Guatemala, and in 1967 furnished more than 40 percent of all agri-
cultural imports. Western Europe, particularly the Netherlands, is important
for dairy products imports. The CACM countries, particularly El Salvador, are
becoming more and more prominent as a source of imports; in 1967 they furnished
17 percent of total imports, compared with 11 percent in 1963. They are
becoming more of a competitor in supplying agricultural commodities to
Guatemala, accounting for almost 36 percent of the total in 1967. Livestock
and products and grains and preparations account for the bulk of the import
value of these countries.
Some imports from the United States have been financed under U.S. Govern-
ment programs and some were gifts from voluntary relief agencies. Such
imports have included coarse grains, fats and oils, and dairy products.
Although Guatemala exports large quantities of food--sugar, beef, bananas--
it imports two-thirds of its consumption of wheat and a wide variety of other
foods. Allowing for the live weight of the feeder cattle imported as well as
food products for direct consumption, in 1967 Guatemala imported 7 to 10
percent of its food energy (in terms of calories). The low purchasing power
of most Guatemalans--both in urban and rural areas--has kept the level of food
intake low, compared with that of the more developed countries of the world.
A greater purchasing power would result in a demand for a higher level of food
consumption and no doubt result in larger imports of wheat, as well as a
variety of specialty products.
U.S. Trade with Guatemala
As noted earlier, the United S;ates has a so-called "favorable" balance
of trade with Guatemala that increased during the 1960's (tables 17 and 18).
Nonagricultural items account for the bulk of U.S. exports. Wheat and flour
are the principal agricultural commodities exported to Guatemala. In earlier
years, flour exports far outranked wheat, but Guatemala has developed its own
milling industry and now buys grain for milling in its own plants. Lard
exports to Guatemala have ceased altogether, and vegetable oil exports have
declined as Guatemala has provided more cottonseed for crushing. Sesame seed
production has also risen, and is now being exported to the United States.
Domestic production of tobacco is replacing imports from the United States
except for high-grade blending tobacco, but this is also being phased out.
The total value of U.S. agricultural exports to Guatemala trended upward
through 1968. The sharp drop in 1969 reflects the growing importance of the
CACM countries in Guatemala's trade situation as well as efforts on the part
of the Guatemalan Government to become self-sufficient and conserve foreign
exchange. U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Guatemala under U.S.
Government programs accounted for $3.2 million in 1968.
U.S. agricultural imports from Guatemala, on the other hand, represent
the major share of imports from that country. Traditionally, these have been,
for the most part, commodities that complement U.S. production. Coffee, for
example, is the principal item, and for many years bananas and plantains were
the second item (in value terms). Essential oils, cocoa, and spices are also
important complementary imports.
Table 17.--Value of U.S. exports to Guatemala, averages 1955-59 and 1960-64, annual 1965-69
Commodity A Average 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 i/
Commodity 1955-59 : 1960-64 :
- - -- MiljionUj._d.jL_ rs - - - -
Wheat and flour . ..: 2.9 3.7 3.2 4.1 4.0 4.3 3.7
Other grains and preparations : 1.6 0.9 0.4 0.4 1.0 1.1 0.5
Tallow, inedible ..... : 0.6 1.1 1.9 1.9 2.3 2.0 1.0
Flavoring syrups . .. 2/ 0.1 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.7
and preparations . 0.7 0.5 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.5 0.5
Dairy products /. ...... : 0.6 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.2 1.2
Feedstuffs ........ : 0.3 0.8 0.9 1.1 1.0 0.6 0.6
Vegetable oils . ... 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1
Lard .. . . : 1.0 0.1 0 0 0 0 0
Tobacco . . .. : 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1
Relief and charity // .... : 2 0.8 0.7 1.3 1.5 2.2
Other agricultural 4/ .... : 1.3 1.1 1.9 2.2 2.3 2.9 2.1
Total agricultural ... : 9.8 10.0 10.8 12.8 14.1 14.8 10.4
(under U.S. Government
programs) ....... :. (2.3) (1.6) (2.2) (2.7) (2.4) (3.2) (2.1)
Nonagricultural ...... : 62.0 57.9 83.9 76.2 76.4 78.1 73.0
Total exports . .. 71.8 67.9 94.7 88.9 90.5 92.9
2/ Less than $50,000.
_/ Exports for relief and charity--mostly nonfat dry milk--are included with the commodity totals in
1969; the major part of total relief and charity for earlier years was also nonfat dgy milk.
4/ Includes a wide variety of products such as hatching eggs, breeding cattle, cottonseed for planting,
rubber, and glucose.
Table 18.--Value of
U.S. imports from Guatemala, averages 1955-59 and 1960-64, annual 1965-69
: Average : Average : 1965 1966
s 1955-59 : 1960-64 : :
1968 : 1969 1/
: - - - Million U.S. dollars - - - -
Coffee, green and
processed . .
Bananas and plantains
Essential oils .
Other 2/. . .
Beef . .
Sugar . .
Other 4/. . ..
Total agricultural .
Nonagricultural . .. : 4.5
Total imports . ... .: 71.1
63.9 3/ 66.7
71.0 o / 75.7
/Includes a variety of products, with year to year shifts in composition. In 1955-59, abaca was
important; in 1966, spices were important; cocoa is important in some years.
3/ Does not add because of rounding.
4/ A larger variety of commodities was imported during the 1960's than in earlier years, including
inedible molasses, cotton linters, and sesame seed.
- ~I--I--~- ----------~
-----~ -~ ----~- -`---- '~^--"1--~--~- ~~--11-1
--- x-.I--:-i;l ~...I-.-~.-~-~.~~~..~..._..--1.,.-..1.1.
Beginning in the late 1950's, supplementary (or competitive) products have
been imported in increasing quantities. Before 1960, supplementary imports
ranged from $200,000 to $300,000 in value; by 1968, they reached a total value
of $20.6 million. Boned frozen beef and sugar are the principal supplementary
items, although a wide variety of other products are imported, including in-
edible molasses, cotton linters, and sesame seed.
Intermediate and long-term prospects for continued growth in Guatemalan
agricultural development depend more on the political and economic climate than
on the availability of physical resources. Guatemala has had a stormy political
life, and these problems have intensified in the past few years. A new adminis-
tration promises to curtail the violence that has disrupted efforts to make
basic improvements in the institutional structure of agriculture.
Guatemala has the physical resources to expand both crop and livestock
production. An estimated 4 million hectares of usable land are presently un-
cultivated, about half of which is cultivable and about half is suitable for
pasture (16). Long-term prospects for Guatemala are that total agricultural
output will rise faster than population growth to supply rising per capital
domestic consumption as well as to furnish foreign exchange from exports of
coffee, cotton, sugar, bananas, and a variety of other products. Any increased
exports of beef, however, probably would be made at the cost of increased per
capital consumption at home. The longer term outlook is for a reduction in
acreage or the mechanization of the production of cotton, sugarcane, basic
grains, and coffee, which would decrease the current need for employing large
numbers of people in the coastal areas as well as.seasonal labor from the high-
lands. Such development would intensify the need for finding off-farm employ-
ment for a population growing at an annual rate of 3 percent.
Intermediate prospects for the 1970's are for increased production of the
principal commodities. One set of forecasts for 1980 (1) shows the following
percentage increases above the 1969 output:
The total population of Guatemala is expected to reach 7 million people
by 1980, with somewhat more than half expected to remain on the farm. This
increase in the number of farmers will undoubtedly raise the number who do not
have sufficient land to support a family. Supplementary employment must be
found for many farm people if a significantly improved standard of living is
to be attained by 1980. Furthermore, even under the most favorable assumptions
of low population growth and higher per capital income, dietary deficiencies
are not likely to be eliminated during the coming decade for most of the
population. Corn and beans will probably remain the principal items of the
diet through 1980.
The short-run prospects for agricultural production were promising until
torrential rains and high winds of hurricane Francelia struck in September
1969. Severe damage was inflicted on cotton, corn, tobacco, wheat, and live-
stock, and the coffee trees suffered minor injury. Railroad and highway
bridges were washed out and sections of the highland highways were rendered
impassable. Temporary repairs have been made, but permanent repairs will take
time and financing.
Although improvements have been made in many areas over the past 15 years,
basic problems remain to be solved before Guatemala can have meaningful d -
ment. Education must receive immediate attention and massive support; agri-
cultural research and experimentation must continue and the results be trans-
mitted to the field at a much faster rate than formerly; modernization of
farming practices must be accelerated; and productivity per worker and per
hectare must rise substantially to permit a higher level of food intake per
capital than at present.
The new 1970 Agricultural Development Plan, however, if implemented, could
result in substantial improvement in intermediate prospects and provide the
framework for long-term agricultural development of great magnitude. All
programs for economic and social development depend on continued financial and
technical assistance from sources outside Guatemala, but there is every indi-
cation that such assistance will be forthcoming.
(1) Battelle Memorial Institute
1969. Projections of Supply and Demand for Selected Agricultural
Products in Central America through 1980. Work done under
contract with the U.S. Dept. of Agr., printed by Israel
Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem, August.
(2) Beal, George M., Coward, E. Walter, Jr., and Klonglan, Gerald E.
1967. Emerging Patterns of Commercial Farming in a Subsistence Farm
Economy: An Analysis of Indian Farmers in Guatemala, Rural
Sociology Rept. No. 68, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
(3) Brannon, Russell H.
1964. Coffee: A Background Study with Primary Emphasis on Guatemala,
Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
(4) Comite Interamericano de Desarrollo Agricola
1965. Tenencia de la Tierra y Desarrollo Socio-Economico del Sector
Agricola: Guatemala, Pan American Union, Washington, D.C.
(5) Guatemala. Bank of Guatemala
1969. Estudio Economico y Memoria de Labores, Ano 1968, Guatemala, C.A.
(6) Consejo Nacional Planificacion Economica
1969. La Planificacion en Guatemala, presented to the President of
(7) ___. Direccion General de Estadistica, Ministerio de Economia
1968. II Censo Agropecuario 1964, Tomo I, Guatemala, C.A., January.
1969. II Censo Agropecuario 1964, Tomo III, Guatemala, C.A., January.
(8) Secretaria General del Consejo Nacional de Planificacion
Economic and Ministerio de Agricultura
1969. Recopilacion de Datos Estadisticos Relacionados con el Sector
Agricola de Guatemala, May.
(9) Hansen, Roger D.
1967. Central America: Regional Integration and Development, National
Planning Association Studies in Development Progress, No. 1,
National Planning Association, Washington, D.C., October.
Hill, George W., and Gollas, Manuel
1968. The Minifundia Economy and Society of the Guatemalan Highland
Indian, Research Paper No. 30, Land Tenure Center, University
of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., July.
(11) Horst, Oscar H.
1966. The Hut and the Milpa: A Meaningful Symbiosis in the Agri-
cultural Economy of Western Guatemala, Western Michigan
University, paper prepared for the 1966 Association of
American Geographers (Processed).
(12) Instituto de Nutricion de Centro America y Panama (INCAP)
1969. Evaluacion Nutricional de la Poblacion de Centro America y
(13) Joint Planning Commission for ODECA (JOPLAN)
Undated. Lineamientos de un Programa de Desarrollo Agropecuario para
(14) McComant, John F.
1968. Development Assistance in Central America, Frederick A. Praeger
Publishers, New York, Washington, London.
(15) Minkel, Clarence W.
1967. Programs of Agricultural Colonization and Settlement in Central
America, Michigan State University (Processed), April.
(16) Schmid, Lester
1969. The Middle-Sized Farm in Guatemala, Research Paper No. 38, Land
Tenure Center, Madison, Wis., August.
(17) Transportation Consultants, Inc.
1965. Central American Transportation Study, 1964-65, Prepared for
the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, Vols. I
and II, Washington, D.C., July.
(18) U.S. Dept. of Agr., Economic Research Service
1959. Guatemala, Its Agricultural Production and Trade, ERS-ForE
1970. Indices of Agricultural Production for the Western Hemisphere,
(20) West, Robert C., and Angelli, John P.
1966. Middle America, Its Lands and Peoples, Prentice-Hall, Inc.,
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
(21) Whetten, Nathan L.
1961. Guatemala, the Land and the People, New Haven University Press.
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