Skip to main content

Hot and dry March reduces harvest prospects with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected through September

  • Key Message Update
  • Lesotho
  • March 2024
Hot and dry March reduces harvest prospects with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected through September

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the peak of the lean season concludes and the harvest approaches, green crop consumption is slightly improving households' food access, especially in the mountains. Most maize crops have reached maturity, with the harvest expected to start in April/May. However, harvest levels are likely below average due to the erratic rainfall and high temperatures during the key reproductive stage for maize in February and March. Agriculture-based labor opportunities are seasonally declining and are expected to remain limited with the start of the dry harvest. Incomes for poor and very poor households are likely to remain below average, impacting purchasing power and their ability to meet their non-food needs. The decline in harvest prospects in March is expected to result in at least one in five households being Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.
    • Although the 2023/24 agriculture season performed well between October and mid-January, the prolonged dry spells and erratic rainfall since mid-January have steadily lowered production prospects in the country. Field observations from key informants suggest crop conditions are mixed at the national level, supported by and satellite imagery from the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and the water requirement satisfaction index (WRSI). As such, production prospects for 2024 are likely to be 70 to 80 percent of normal. The anticipated below-average harvest will provide minimal improvements in household food availability. Many households will likely continue relying heavily on food purchases at local markets in order to access food during the harvest and post-harvest period.
    • In mid-March the government issued a statement warning farmers that Bluetongue disease has been observed in the lowlands of Maseru and Mafeteng districts. Available information suggests that over 300 sheep have died, and around 1,880 sheep have been affected. Bluetongue disease is spread by mosquitos that have benefited from the high temperatures and erratic rainfall. Livestock herders have also been advised to report any outbreaks to the Ministry of Agriculture or nearby veterinarians for assistance. Higher-than-normal temperatures have also reduced egg and broiler production, negatively impacting households that depend on income from egg and chicken sales.
    • Maize meal and other staple food commodities are available on the market, most of which are imported from South Africa. However, due to high demand, maize meal prices are above average, reducing market-dependent households' purchasing power. In late March, South Africa lowered its 2024 production estimates to 13.256 million metric tons, which will likely further tighten regional maize supply and keep maize meal prices in Lesotho higher than the five-year average due to high regional demand. The high maize prices will likely keep household purchasing power lower than normal through the projection period. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Lesotho Key Message Update March 2024: Hot and dry March reduces harvest prospects with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected through September, 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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top