Food security outcomes expected to improve in February/March with onset of harvest

Lesotho Key Message Update, January 2022

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

Key Messages

  • Since the beginning of December, widespread favorable rainfall has facilitated engagement in the agricultural season and crop growth. Although, high fertilizer, agrochemicals, and fuel prices are limiting households’ ability to adequately tend to their crops, decreasing yield prospects. Heavy rainfall in January resulted in waterlogging and leaching of planted maize and sorghum and hindered weeding operations. Favorable rainfall is expected during the outlook period, and despite some of the negative impacts on the season, an average 2022 harvest is still anticipated.
  • Lesotho’s economy is expected to grow in 2022 as commodity prices rise and external demand for textiles recover. Inflation will likely remain above the 2021 average of nearly six percent due to substantially higher electricity, gas, fuel, food, and transportation costs. The current reserve holdings exceed four months’ import cover and will remain sufficient to maintain the currency pegged to the Rand. In November, prices for maize meal, wheat flour, sunflower oil, bread, and beans for Maseru and other markets were stable seasonally. Still, prices are elevated compared to last year and the five-year averages. Due to the high inflation and subsequent high prices, household purchasing power is low.
  • As the production season progresses, household food stocks from own production are depleted. Reliance on markets for food remains a challenge among poor households as persistently high food prices and below-average income hinders household economic capacity to access food. Below-average labor migration and off-farm labor opportunities reduced domestic and Southern African Customs Union remittances. These factors are expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes currently in southern parts of Lesotho, with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes anticipated in February/March when the harvest stats.

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