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Anticipated below-average harvest and rise in food prices to impact food access for 2015/16

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • April 2015
Anticipated below-average harvest and rise in food prices to impact food access for 2015/16

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • The start of main harvests, relative stable food prices supplemented by ongoing safety-net programmes will maintain sufficient food access for most households, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes between April to June 2015.  

    • The drop in own harvests, and low production in South Africa and other exporting countries will likely result in further increases in staple food prices for local and imported maize, reducing the purchasing power for poor households particularly in the June to September period when production will be supplemented by market purchase as in normal years.

    • The low production, limited availability of agricultural income-earning opportunities and anticipated rise in food prices due to high import prices will likely weaken food access and purchasing power of poor households, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from July to September. 




    Northern, Southern Lowlands, Mountains and Foothills livelihood zones

    Persistent below-average crop condition in some parts of the zones, stemming from poor distribution of rainfall resulting in moisture stress. 

    Households will likely be market dependent earlier than normal and purchase staple foods at higher than normal prices. .

    Projected Outlook through September 2015

    The 2014/15 seasonal performance has been characterized by poorly distributed rainfall, with a slight delay and near average start of season. Above-average rains fell from November to January, followed by prolonged dry spells over 20 days that included significantly below-average rainfall in February 2015 and above average rainfall in March (Figure 1). This poor performance, in particular the timing of prolonged dry spells at a time of crop flowering and maturity, has impeded optimal crop growth resulting in average to below average crop condition for the season, even in comparison to 2013/14 season as suggested by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).

    While cumulative rainfall is near average and last year’s totals, its distribution has been poorer compared to last season and to average, which has affected crop growth and maturity with a likelihood of poor production prospects when compared to last year as well as average. FAO estimates that 2014/15 maize production in Lesotho will be 28 percent below the recent five-year average.

    Food prices have generally been stable on account of very low import prices and a drop in fuel costs (Figure 2). However, fuel price increases since February, the rise of grain prices in South Africa by 31 percent from February to March, anticipated poor production, an expected 36 percent drop in production in South Africa compared to last year, and increased regional demand are factors that will likely influence anomalous price increases locally on account of further increases in import costs. This is likely to severely affect purchasing power of households, particularly from July-September.  

    The start and intensification of main harvest in April and May, stable purchasing power from incomes associated with agriculture labor and ongoing safety nets will see stable food access resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes between April and June. However, own production own stocks for very poor and poor households will likely be depleted in the July to September period, with high and increasing food prices and reducing income opportunities during the same period acute food insecurity outcomes are likely to deteriorate to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) even in the presence of ongoing safety net interventions. This outlook would worsen in the event of food price spikes, and changes in the funding levels of safety net programmes, which could change access to food and purchasing of poor households between July to September.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Rainfall distribution compared to average, national.

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Rainfall distribution compared to average, national.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Maize meal price trends comparison

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Maize meal price trends comparison

    Source: GIEWS/FAO

    Figure 4


    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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