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Start of green consumption and main harvest will ensure sufficient access to food

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • January 2015
Start of green consumption and main harvest will ensure sufficient access to food

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • As the lean season peaks in January-February, high retail prices for imported maize and limited incomes are constraining poor households’ ability to adequately meet livelihood needs. Poor rural households across the country will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), between January and February. 

    • Stable food prices, ongoing safety nets programming, income opportunities associated with agriculture, the start of green consumption and main harvest are all expected to contribute to sufficient household food access, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes from March to June.

    • Cumulative rainfall amounts for this season have improved compared to last season and crop conditions are fair to good across the country, at the vegetative stage. Although there are increased chances of normal to below-normal rainfall expected for the January to March period, harvest prospects are expected to be better than last year (104,000 MT), but will likely be below the five-year average (127,000 MT). 





    • Forecasted below-normal rainfall countrywide for January to March.
    • Slightly below-average crop production due to forecasted average to below-average rainfall between January and March.

    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    The start of season was near average across Lesotho, with localized variations of 10-day delays and 10-day early onsets of rains in many areas across the country by the last week of November. Rainfall was near normal in November and December, which has supported crop germination and growth. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) reveal that the vegetation cover is better than at the same time last year and similar to average vegetation cover at this time of the year (Figure 1). The Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) estimates that maize crop condition is average to above average across the country (Figure 2). The two indices suggest that seasonal progress and crop conditions are normal. However, the recently published Southern Africa Agrometeorological Update, which carries a forecast update from the SADC Climate Services Centre, indicates that there is an increased chance of average to below-average rainfall between January and March. This reduction in expected rainfall performance will likely impact crop maturity and reduce yields. FEWS NET expects production to be better than during the 2013/14 season, but may be slightly below the five-year average.

    Demand for labor in weeding and other pre-harvest activities is expected to be near normal given the near-normal start and progress of seasonal rainfall. Due to reduced labor income earlier in the year, supply of on-farm labor will likely be above average and result in some households unable to meet their normal levels of food and cash income, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes between January and February. The start of green consumption is expected to start normal in March followed by main harvests starting in April, which will improve food access of households through consumption of own production. Harvests will provide labor opportunities, further improving incomes for poor households to meet their survival and livelihood needs. These conditions will likely improve food insecurity outcomes to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between March and June.

    The price for imported maize meal remains relatively stable with gradual increases observed in monitored markets following seasonal trends and the gradual increases in prices of maize grain in South Africa from October to December. The impact of the recent fuel price reductions are likely to further stabilize staple food prices between January and March. In line 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 and June. The stability in prices will likely be favorable for households purchasing staple food during the outlook period.

    The World Food Program (WFP) provided food assistance to approximately 321,526 people through the country, and school meal programmes in December. These programmes are expected to continue in the outlook period as they have been designed as safety net interventions. In the presence of this assistance, the start of green consumption, and the upcoming main harvest, FEWS NET projects an improvement in food access to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes from March through June 2015 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. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. NDVI, Lesotho, national level, 2014/15 compared to 2012/2013, 2013/14, and mean.

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2. WRSI Anomaly extended 1st dekad of January 2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 2

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    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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