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Maize prices remain high as the main harvest begins

  • Key Message Update
  • Lesotho
  • April 2024
Maize prices remain high as the main harvest begins

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the rainy season concludes, cumulative rainfall is lower than average in southwestern Lesotho, with parts of Quthing and Mohale’s Hoek recording 70 to 85 percent of the 40-year average for rainfall. Lesotho’s main harvest is in progress, and households are beginning to consume their own produced food. The Ministry of Agriculture is surveying fields to estimate the harvest, but available information from key informants indicates that access to own produced food is expected to be lower than normal following El Niño-related dry spells and high temperatures through the 2023/24 rainy season. As a result of a lower than normal harvest, some poor and very poor households are expected to deplete their food stocks earlier than normal in the post-harvest period and remain dependent on market purchases for food. However, harvesting labor opportunities are also reportedly below normal according to key informants. Consequently, poor households are likely to expand their engagement in income-earning opportunities off their own farm, but increased competition will likely constrain earnings and keep purchasing capacity lower than normal. As a result, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely to remain present through the projection period.
    • In April, rainfall improved soil moisture conditions after a long dry spell, which improved soil conditions ahead of planting winter wheat. Wheat is mainly grown by middle- and better-off households in the foothills and northern lowlands, though labor for cultivation and sowing provides income for poor households in Qacha’s Nek, Thaba Tseka, Mokhotlong, and Quthing, providing a source of income from agricultural labor between June and August. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry is also providing off-season labor opportunities through land management projects focusing on ravine (donga) rehabilitation and debrushing (removal of invasive species) in the rangelands.
    • Many poor households in Lesotho will continue to rely on food purchases throughout most of the 2024/25 consumption year, driving a high demand for staple foods. However, high domestic and regional demand will likely drive high prices in South African source markets. In March, maize meal was retailing for 5.11 USD per 12.5kg bag, 32 percent above the five-year average. However, on April 8, the parastatal Lesotho Flour Mills raised maize prices by 7 percent due to rising source costs in South Africa, with an additional 15 percent increase scheduled for May 6. In the meantime, newly available green mealies are providing access to food for poor households, but as stocks decline and market reliance increases, staple prices are expected to gradually increase and remain high through the post-harvest and projection period.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Lesotho Key Message Update April 2024: Maize prices remain high as the main harvest begins, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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