- As the lean season progresses, household food stocks from own production are depleted, with reliance on markets for food increasing for many poor households. While food imports from South Africa are flowing smoothly, low cereal stocks, persistently high food prices, and lower than average income continue to impinge on household economic capacity to access food. This is expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through the lean season in southern parts of Lesotho.
- Wet conditions during late 2021 and favorable rainfall forecast for the remainder of 2021/22 production season are expected to drive normal farming activities. Planting has progressed normally and is likely to be completed by the end of December as typical. The high prices of fertilizer, agrochemicals, fuel, and gas will likely somewhat limit access to inputs. With the normal area planted, production prospects for the 2022 harvest are near average. Increased domestic cereal output could improve domestic supply in May 2022.
- With rainfall above-average over Lesotho, casual agricultural opportunities have been normal. However, labor migration and off-farm labor opportunities remain below average due to the compounding effects of COVID-19 restrictions locally and cross-border travel to labor markets in South Africa. Despite the emergence of Omicron, Lesotho’s domestic economy continues to operate under a partial lockdown. Meanwhile, shops, transport, restaurants, and bars are operating with restrictions.
PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2022
Since mid-November, persistent rainfall facilitated a favorable start to the season. Planting for the 2021/22 season, primarily maize and sorghum, is nearly complete and is expected to be finished by the end of December. The average to above-average rainfall to start the season has resulted in favorable crop development. Crops in the southern mountainous districts have already reached the vegetative stage. The cereal production forecast in 2022 is average. However, the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on households’ incomes and high prices for agricultural inputs, including fertilizers and labor, could limit yield potential and reduce output. Although average production is still anticipated for the 2022 harvest…