A lower middle-income country, Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America (IFAD 2012). In 2010, the country had a per capita income of about US$1,880. Honduras’s economy is based largely on the international trading of agricultural commodities and manufactures, making it the most open economy in Central America; this has also made it particularly susceptible to the 2008-09 global financial downturn. Remittances and exports fell sharply during this period, with GDP growth falling by around 2 percent in 2009 (World Bank). An estimated 1.5 million Hondurans suffer from hunger and food insecurity, and recurrent natural disasters continue to threaten the country’s most vulnerable populations (WFP 2012). Poverty in Honduras affects 60 percent of the population; 36 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty. In rural areas, these figures rise to 63 and 50 percent, respectively (IFAD 2012). Indigenous populations are even more likely to be poor, with 71 percent living below the poverty line. Chronic malnutrition can reach 48.5 percent in rural areas, with a stunting rate of 34 percent (WFP 2012).

Agriculture employs 39 percent of the population of Honduras, with 28 percent of the country’s land being farmed (IFAD 2012). Subsistence farmers make up 70 percent of the agricultural community, farming low-profit crops such as bananas, plantains, rice, maize, and beans. These small-scale farmers have little access to land and depend largely on remittances and off-farm employment. Households headed by women make up approximately 9 percent of the country’s small farmers, but earn approximately 30 percent less than households headed by men (IFAD 2012).

Weather-related events pose significant barriers to agricultural productivity in Honduras. The country is particularly prone to erosion, hurricanes, and flooding, which can cause widespread destruction of basic economic and social infrastructure, as well as crops. The country also suffers prolonged droughts on a regular basis, affecting food and nutritional security for the poorest populations.