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Above-average rainfall persists, though the area planted remains lower than normal

  • Key Message Update
  • Lesotho
  • December 2022
Above-average rainfall persists, though the area planted remains lower than normal

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the peak of the lean season progresses, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes continue in deficit-producing areas, the lowlands, foothills, and the Senqu river valley. These outcomes are driven by high food prices, inflation, and below-average income from the 2021/22 production season, resulting in reduced access to food due to below-normal household purchasing power. As households rely more on market purchases during this period, high global food and fuel prices are expected to sustain well above-average food prices. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes  are expected to persist until the next harvest in March/April 2023. After the arrival of the harvest, household food access will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • Annual inflation dropped from 9.2 percent in September to 8.5 percent in October. This decline is the first seen since July 2021, when inflation decreased from 6 percent in June to 5.5 percent. Nonetheless, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, food inflation remains elevated at 10.2 percent in October. Items driving this inflation rate include electricity, gas, other fuels, and transportation costs. Households continue to have limited access to food due to eroding purchasing power. Additionally, high inflation has reduced income availability for middle and better-off households to hire labor for agricultural activities. 

    • The costs of maize, wheat flour, and sunflower in October were generally stable compared to September but elevated compared to prices in 2021 and the five-year average. Year-over-year variations of 7, 17, and 52 percent for the costs of maize meal, wheat flour, and sunflower seed oil, respectively, and prices up to 23, 42, and 102 percent above average, respectively, were recorded in Maseru. These elevated prices limit the purchasing power of households dependent on market purchases for food.

    • Above-average rainfall is expected across the country between December 2022 and April 2023, supporting normal crop development. After a normal start of the rainfall season in October, some farmers could plant maize and sorghum with widespread favorable rainfall; however, by late November, only about 30 percent of farmers had planted crops. The largest barrier to planting this season is limited access to seeds because of the high price of inputs. The Lesotho government typically provides subsidized inputs to farmers, but this year the amount of seeds procured was much lower than normal due to high global prices. Under the subsidy program, government procurement of seeds for beans and potatoes is still ongoing. Once these items are distributed to farmers, it should allow them to continue planting through January 2023. However, higher amounts of seed and machinery are needed for cultivation in the lowlands due to the larger plots. With above-average seed prices coupled with the high cost of operating farm machinery due to high fuel prices, the area cultivated for the 2022/23 season is expected to be below average.

    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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