Increases in rainfall during December and January improve cropping prospects in Lesotho

Lesotho Key Message Update: Increases in rainfall during December and January improve cropping prospects in Lesotho, January 2020 by FEWS NET

Photo by Étienne Beauregard-Riverin on Unsplash

Key Messages

  • Rainfall improved in December 2019 and January 2020, following a delayed and below-average start to the season. This has led to increases in planting, although area planted is reported to be below average. Rainfall since December has facilitated growth of crops, most of which are in good condition but in the vegetative stage, which is behind schedule due to the late start of season. Should favorable conditions persist, households should start to access green foods in March, instead of February as is typical. 
  • Increased cropping activities have driven improvements in the availability of agricultural labor opportunities in January. This has slightly improved households’ access to income through on-farm labor. However, since area planted is below average, opportunities for labor remain low compared to typical years. Nonetheless, some households are engaging in wet season vegetable production which is likely to improve incomes in the coming months.
  • Rangeland and water resources have improved with recent rainfall, although still remain below typical levels. Livestock conditions are also improving although they still need some time to fully recover. Likewise, some agricultural households lost livestock during the peak of dry season, and additional time will be required for households to fully recover their livestock assets. 
  • Maize grain prices have remained generally stable in recent months. Still, lower than normal labor opportunities and a longer reliance on markets than normal following the below average 2019 season are leading to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in Lesotho, which is expected to continue until the onset of main harvests in April/May. 


The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.