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Food insecurity to persist during the post-harvest period

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • April 2016
Food insecurity to persist during the post-harvest period

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  • Key Messages
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2016
  • Key Messages
    • The main harvesting period for Lesotho has arrived, marking the end of the lean season. However, due to drought conditions during the 2015/16 cropping season, many households may only produce enough cereals for less than 2 months of consumption. After household cereal supplies are finished, populations greater than 20 percent in some areas that are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2) will worsen to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between June and September. An earlier than normal lean season is also expected during the 2016/17 consumption year.

    • Prospects for the 2016 wheat harvest are much better than for cereal crops. However, this harvest is not beneficial to poor households because it is mainly cropped by middle and better off households in the foothills and northern lowlands. The majority of poor households in Lesotho will continue to rely on food purchases throughout most of the 2016/17 consumption year. Because of anticipated higher demand for cereals both domestically and within region, prices are expected to remain above last year and the five-year average.  

    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    Southern Lowlands, Foothills, Mountains, and Senque River valley

    The drought conditions experienced during the 2015/16 agriculture season have resulted in poor production prospects and most poor households are expected to have less than 2 months’ worth of maize for consumption. The vegetation conditions also resulted in below normal harvesting labor opportunities. Since poor and very poor households usually rely on this income source for food purchases, these anomalies will limit food access in these areas.  

    Households will continue to rely on the market for staple purchases during this post-harvest period which is atypical. Staple prices are likely to remain high during the post-harvest period, a time when the lowest are expected in normal years.  

     


    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2016

    April marks the start of the main harvesting period and the end of the lean season for Lesotho. In normal years, all crops are harvested from April to July. Normally during the harvest and post-harvest period, households are consuming their own produced food. April also marks the start of the new 2016/17 consumption period. Due to the severe drought this cropping season, access to own produced food will be extremely limited this year and many households will barely harvest enough food to consume for 2 months. There are also some very poor households that are not expected to harvest anything. Even though there are better prospects for the wheat harvest this year, this harvest will not be beneficial to poor households because it is mainly cropped by middle and better off households in the foothills and northern lowlands. Given the poor harvest (all crops) expected this year and limited opportunities for harvest labor, an earlier than normal lean season is also expected during the 2016/17 consumption year.

    With the anomalies described above, it is expected that the majority of poor households in Lesotho will continue to rely on food purchases throughout most of the 2016/17 consumption year. The demand for staple food will therefore remain high this consumption year. Coupled by the generally high staple prices in South African source markets, staple prices are expected to remain high in Lesotho through the post-harvest period and beyond the outlook period.

    Between June and September, very poor and poor households usually rely on off-season activities to obtain cash income. These mostly include firewood sales, beer brewing, gardening, and construction (house smearing, collecting stones etc.). However, participation in these activities will likely be reduced during this period because of the seasonal drought conditions. Cereals that are usually used for brewing will be limited and gardening activities will be restricted by the shortage of available water. At the same time, opportunities for construction will likely be affected by poor liquidity within the local economy as middle and better off household incomes from crop sells will also be adversely impacted by the drought. Due to these livelihood constraints, very poor and poor households will likely continue to sell their few livestock at unsustainable levels, threatening their herd viability. In addition, poor households will likely resort to reduced consumption which could affect the nutritional status of households. In general, sources of income for poor households will be very limited for the remainder of the outlook period, and this will constrain their ability to purchase cereal in local markets for consumption. Current areas that are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will likely to worsen to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between June and September. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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