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The 2023 main harvest is expected to improve household food access

  • Key Message Update
  • Lesotho
  • March 2023
The 2023 main harvest is expected to improve household food access

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In March, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in the southern lowlands and deficit-production areas as the lean season ends and agricultural labor opportunities decline.  As more poor households increasingly rely on market purchases for food, their purchasing power is reduced due to rising inflation and lower incomes. However, the start of harvests in April/May 2023 is expected to improve access and availability of staple and other food crops across the country, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    • Across much of the country, the maize and sorghum crops are in the maturation stage, and households have started accessing green crops while the main harvest is expected in April/May. Despite receiving normal to above normal rainfall across much of the country, cereal crop production is likely to be below average largely due to reduced area cropped due to reduced access to inputs such as seeds and fertilizer.

    • The 2022/23 rainfall season is expected to end by late March, and cumulative average to above-average rainfall is expected across most parts of the country. Households will likely take advantage of the residual moisture and increased water levels in most bodies of water by intensifying vegetable gardening and winter cultivation activities. Winter cultivation typically takes place between April and  July. However, the high cost of seeds and fertilizer will likely limit the cropped area for winter cultivation as households rely on market purchases for food, and face reduced purchasing power. Between April and June, poor households depend on harvesting labor, remittances, vegetable gardening, and other non-agricultural labor activities as their main livelihood activities. Overall income from these activities is expected to be below average because of reduced hiring power by better-off households as a result of the challenging macroeconomic environment.

    • In February, annual inflation was an estimated 7.4 percent, up from 6.9 percent in January. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, this increase is largely driven by higher food and transportation costs. The cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages and transportation year-on-year increased by 11.4 and 8.7 percent, respectively. The prices of staple foods remain elevated. Compared to the five-year average, maize meal and wheat flour prices in Maseru were 36 and 48 percent higher, and year-on-year costs increased by 19 and 17 percent, respectively. The year-on-year price for sunflower oil increased by 33 percent. High staple food prices continue to limit households’ access to food at a time when households are largely market dependent.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Lesotho Key Message Update March 2023: The 2023 main harvest is expected to improve household food access, 2023.

    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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