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Average rainfall is supporting crop production, but food prices are high

  • Key Message Update
  • Lesotho
  • January 2024
Average rainfall is supporting crop production, but food prices are high

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • With the season’s cumulative rainfall around average levels, crop production is expected to increase slightly. Food security outcomes are expected to improve slightly starting with the main harvests in April. Rainfall was above average in December and early January, while most areas recorded slightly below-average rainfall from mid-January until the end of the month. With well-distributed and sufficient rainfall for crop production, planted acreage is expected to be higher than last year. Subsidized fertilizer has also supported production prospects slightly despite delays in distribution and limited quantity. For farmers who planted early, crops are at the tussling stage. Early season food availability has increased with winter wheat harvesting, mainly in Mokhotlong and Thaba Tseka Districts, although slightly limited by harvester availability. However, with general market prices still high and off-farm income declining slightly, purchasing power for poor and very poor households will likely be impacted, thereby driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes with the worst-affected households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • Overall, off-farm income for households is expected to decline slightly due to increased competition for petty trade and casual labor opportunities. In January, most agricultural labor opportunities are for weeding, which is at average levels. However, local information suggests farmers’ use of herbicides has reduced some weeding work. Remittances, an important source of income, are expected to decline slightly due to South African election-related concerns about migrants’ work in informal mining. Income from sheep shearing ended in December, but will resume in April and is expected to be average.
    • Increasing headline inflation is continuing to impact household purchasing power, even though maize prices have been stable or slightly declining. Inflation was 7.2 percent in December 2023, increasing by 0.4 percent from November. Elevated prices in food and non-alcoholic beverages are major contributors to rising inflation. One factor is chicken supply for consumption and income generation, which has been reduced since September 2023 due to import restrictions from South Africa for bird flu, although frozen chicken imports have recently been allowed. In contrast, maize prices are similar to the previous month and 8.6 percent lower than last year, with a 12.5-kilogram bag of maize retailing in December at 94.5 LSL (5.11 USD). 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Lesotho Key Message Update January 2024: Average rainfall is supporting crop production, but food prices are high, 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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