The drought that has affected most of Guatemala in 2012 ruined half of this year's crops of the two main staples, maize and beans, the agriculture ministry said in a report released Thursday.

All but four of Guatemala's 22 provinces are suffering from a lack of rainfall, the ministry said.

Maize is the country's leading crop, with an average annual harvest of 1.67 million tons, while Guatemalan farmers produce nearly 200,000 tons of beans in a normal year.

More than 34,000 families make their living by cultivating maize or beans, according to the agriculture ministry, which quantified the economic cost of the destruction of the crops at 52 million quetzales ($6.6 million).

The government, with help from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, plans to assist rural families affected by the drought, Agriculture Minister Efrain Medina said.

Drought caused widespread food shortages in Guatemala in 2009-2010. The country has the region's highest rate of chronic malnutrition among children. EFE