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Food security outcomes are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in April with the harvest

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • December 2021
Food security outcomes are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in April with the harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2022
  • Key Messages
    • As the lean season progresses, household food stocks from own production are depleted, with reliance on markets for food increasing for many poor households. While food imports from South Africa are flowing smoothly, low cereal stocks, persistently high food prices, and lower than average income continue to impinge on household economic capacity to access food. This is expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through the lean season in southern parts of Lesotho. 

    • Wet conditions during late 2021 and favorable rainfall forecast for the remainder of 2021/22 production season are expected to drive normal farming activities. Planting has progressed normally and is likely to be completed by the end of December as typical. The high prices of fertilizer, agrochemicals, fuel, and gas will likely somewhat limit access to inputs. With the normal area planted, production prospects for the 2022 harvest are near average. Increased domestic cereal output could improve domestic supply in May 2022. 

    • With rainfall above-average over Lesotho, casual agricultural opportunities have been normal. However, labor migration and off-farm labor opportunities remain below average due to the compounding effects of COVID-19 restrictions locally and cross-border travel to labor markets in South Africa. Despite the emergence of Omicron, Lesotho's domestic economy continues to operate under a partial lockdown. Meanwhile, shops, transport, restaurants, and bars are operating with restrictions. 

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Mafeteng, Quthing, Maseru, and Qacha's Nek,

    • Depletion of own-produced foods and increased reliance on purchased food
    • Above-average maize grain and meal
    • Non-agricultural casual and migrant labor opportunities are below normal
    • Above-average 2021/22 rainfall could lead to flooding, driving crop damage over localized areas
    • Continued high maize grain and meal prices due to price transmission from South Africa and supply chain disruptions.

     


    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2022

    Since mid-November, persistent rainfall facilitated a favorable start to the season. Planting for the 2021/22 season, primarily maize and sorghum, is nearly complete and is expected to be finished by the end of December. The average to above-average rainfall to start the season has resulted in favorable crop development. Crops in the southern mountainous districts have already reached the vegetative stage. The cereal production forecast in 2022 is average. However, the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on households' incomes and high prices for agricultural inputs, including fertilizers and labor, could limit yield potential and reduce output. Although average production is still anticipated for the 2022 harvest

    October, food prices were generally stable. Prices of maize flour (Figure 1), beans, wheat flour, and sunflower oil in Maseru and generally elsewhere were stable month on month but elevated compared to last year and the five-year average. The stable monthly levels are partly attributed to adequate domestic availability following an increase in production. Aggregate demand is also subdued by depressed incomes following numerous COVID-19 lockdowns. Maize meal and bean prices in October 2021 were nine percent and 26 percent above October 2020, respectively. Tight global supplies relative to demand in 2021 kept upward pressure on prices, and Lesotho prices followed suit.

    Although domestic food supplies are sufficient, maize meal prices are projected to increase during this lean season due to rising prices in South Africa (Figure 2). Supply chains between Lesotho and South Africa are generally functioning normally.

    Following above-average maize production in 2021, the import requirement for the 2021/22 marketing year is estimated at the below-average level of 74,207MT. Cumulative maize import totals between May and November 2021 were 34,884MT, 22 percent lower than last year and 26 percent below the five-year average.

    Food insecurity has been partly driven by the effects of the lockdown measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and elevated food prices year on year. Restricted entry of tourists and partial lockdown continues to result in the loss of jobs and income. Overall, household purchasing power is expected to be below average due to high food prices and below-average access to income- driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in areas of concern. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) are anticipated in the post-harvest period. 

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET based on BOS data

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET based on BOS data

    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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