In the past few years, the dry bean sub-sector in Central

America has witnessed many dynamic changes. Unless we

find ways to increase the competitiveness of the regional

bean sub-sector, Central American countries will likely

experience significant negative social and economic impacts,

especially since these countries are facing the challenge of

adjusting to new open markets, such as the Central American

Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Bean traders, retailers, and

knowledgeable government official in Costa Rica, El

Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua were

interviewed to document these changes, identify constraints

that threaten the viability of the sub-sector, and assess future

opportunities for increasing bean market shares. The results

indicate that to remain competitive in the future, Central

American countries must increase productivity by continuing

to support dry bean research (i.e., develop improved varieties

with characteristics that consumers prefer such as grain

color); strengthen programs for distributing improved

varieties to producers; provide producers with better market

information; develop stronger linkages between producers,

packers, wholesalers, and supermarkets; and aggressively

target the U.S. export market.

Keywords: subsector analysis, strategic planning, dry bean, Central America.