Skip to main content

Maize prices atypically rise during the main harvest

  • Key Message Update
  • Lesotho
  • May 2024
Maize prices atypically rise during the main harvest

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • A below-normal harvest and increased market reliance have resulted in maize prices rising during the main harvest. Although a larger area was planted in the 2023/24 than the previous season, dry conditions damaged much of the crop between January and March, especially maize. Some poor and very poor households that experienced significant crop losses are already relying on food purchases from local markets, which is earlier than normal. Retail staple food prices are expected to increase further due to below-average local production and higher prices for imported maize. Consequently, household purchasing capacity is expected to decline, particularly between August and September, when market purchases are the main food source, and labor opportunities are often seasonally limited. Overall, most households are likely to continue to meet their food needs through September, driving area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
    • There are limited income-earning opportunities from labor on semi-commercial farms for the summer harvest, winter-season planting of wheat across the country, and government cash-for-work programs. Some of the limited work opportunities on semi-commercial farms are supported by seed and fertilizer subsidies of 70 to 80 percent for farmers planting winter crops such as wheat under the supervision of extension officers. Income from livestock may also be reduced due to lower-than-normal availability of crop residues for winter livestock fodder. Due to a likely need for income for market purchases, very poor and poor households will likely sell some livestock, with increased market supply likely resulting in below-average prices. However, to address drought-related food insecurity, the Prime Minister's Office announced in early May it had allocated 5.3 million USD for cash or food payments for 180,000 vulnerable people to participate in community-based work on projects such as road maintenance or grazing lands protection between June and December.
    • Higher maize meal prices in April and May indicate that market supplies are lower than normal, as prices typically decline during harvests. In April, maize meal retail prices rose to 5.51 USD per 12.5kg bag, up from 5.11 USD in March, similar to last year. However, on May 6, as previously scheduled, Lesotho Flour Mills increased its maize meal price by 15 percent, bringing the retail price to 6.33 USD. In April, Lesotho's annual food inflation rose to 10.4 percent, from 9.7 percent in March, although overall consumer price inflation lowered to 7.1 percent from 7.4 percent in March. The increase in food prices will likely constrain household purchasing capacity and may lead to poor households consuming less preferred foods, as well as reducing spending on healthcare, education, and other non-food items during the winter.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Lesotho Key Message Update May 2024: Maize prices atypically rise during the main harvest, 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