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- Stable food prices, normal income opportunities associated with agriculture, ongoing poverty reduction and humanitarian programming, and the start of green consumption and main harvest in the coming months are all expected to contribute to continued sufficient household food access, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes from January to June.
- In comparison to last year cumulative rainfall amounts have improved for this season, but remain below normal to average. Normal to above normal rainfall is expected for the January to April period and harvest prospects are better across the country in comparison to last year.
- Seasonal prices are expected to peak from January-March, constraining the purchasing power of poor households whose main income is agriculture labor during this period. However, stable and low prices are expected with the start of green consumption and the main harvest and this should improve food security among the poorest households.
|National||Following a 10-30 day delay in the start of the season in cropping areas, cumulative rainfall has been below average.||Usually green consumption starts in March but the late start of season and likely slow growth may result in a slightly delayed start of green consumption.|
The onset was generally delayed in some of the central and southwestern parts of the country by 10-30 days (Figure 2). Improved rainfall performance in November marked the onset of rains in many areas across the country. The November and December rains helped to reduce moisture deficits from the previous months that had impacted the start of planting and water availability. Although cumulative rainfall in early December was below normal, the overall seasonal performance so far was better when compared to same time last year.
The Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) and the Lesotho Meteorological Service updated forecasts show an increased chance of average to above-average rainfall between January and April, which gives better prospects for the upcoming harvest compared in comparison to the previous season. This is because most of the planting was completed by late December and the area planted is slightly higher than the previous season. If rainfall is average to above-average it will be the second consecutive year of improved harvests in Lesotho, further enhancing livelihoods for poor households that are dependent on agriculture.
Demand for labor in weeding and harvesting activities is expected to remain normal with the continued expectation of normal to above normal rains. These opportunities are expected to provide incomes for poor households between January and February for weeding and between April and May for harvesting. This income should stabilize their purchasing power and access to food. The start of green crop consumption is expected to be slightly delayed due to late start of season. Most areas are expected to start accessing green foods in April instead of late February-March. The harvest period is also expected to be slightly delayed starting in late April-June and further improving household access to food from own production.
The price for imported maize meal remains relatively stable with gradual increases observed in markets outside of Maseru, mainly due to trader monopolies in the supply of maize meal and additional transport costs to these markets. The gradual increasing trends in wholesale maize meal and grain prices in South Africa, increased demand in purchased staple and increasing fuel prices will likely result in an increase in food prices in Lesotho between January and March. In accordance with seasonal trends, the start of the main harvest is likely going to see a drop in prices due to reduced demand for purchased maize between April to June. The increase in maize meal prices in the first half of the outlook period (Jan.-Mar.) could likely result in worsening food security outcomes, especially for the 15 percent identified as at risk of food insecurity by the Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee. However, the start of main harvest and expected seasonal drop in prices will improve food security outcomes among households between April and June.
The World Food Program (WFP) provided food assistance to approximately 217,181 people through the emergency operations (EMOP), country, and school meal programming in December. While the EMOP ended in December the school meals and country programs are ongoing and reaching approximately 150,000 and 124,500 people, respectively. In the presence of this assistance, the start of green consumption, and the upcoming main harvest FEWS NET projects that Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes will continue through June 2014 throughout the country. This outlook would worsen in the event of any change in the rainfall performance between January and March or instability of staple food prices.
About Remote Monitoring
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 www.fews.net/our-work/our-work/scenario-development
Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year
Source: FEWS NET
Figure 2. Start of season anomaly as of January 10, 2014.
Source: FEWS NET and USGS
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.