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Poor rainfall performance suggests below-average crop production likely

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • March 2015
Poor rainfall performance suggests below-average crop production likely

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Stable food prices, peaking of green consumption, start of main harvest with associated labor opportunities, and ongoing safety-net programming are expected to ensure sufficient food access for most households, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes from March to June 2015. 

    • Food prices were generally been stable throughout 2014 on account of low import prices and a reduction in fuel prices. However, recent increases in maize prices in South Africa, increases in fuel prices, and an anticipated drop in production locally and in South Africa are likely to increase food prices from May, weakening the purchasing power of poor households.  

    • The 2014/15 agriculture season performed well between October and mid-January, but prolonged dry spells, below-average rainfall, and a poor distribution of rainfall has hurt production prospects and agricultural income-earning opportunities during the second half of the season. With crops currently in poor to mediocre condition, continued below-average rainfall and an expected early end to the season is likely to further limit income-earning opportunities and result in above-average staple food import needs. 




    Northern, Southern Lowlands, Mountains and Foothills livelihood zones

    Field observations and remote sensing products (WRSI and NDVI) suggest that seasonal performance and current crop conditions are mostly below average.

    Below-average 2014/15 crop production and associated labor income.

    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    Rainfall performance since mid-January continues to be below average and poorly distributed, with dry spells occurring in February and March. Meanwhile, temperatures have been above-average across Lesotho, which has reduced moisture availability for crops, particularly in the major crop-producing Northern and Southern Lowlands, Foothills and Mountains livelihood zones. Remote sensing data from the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) suggests current vegetation cover (Figure 1) is below average and below 2014 levels. The anomaly for Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) estimates that maize crop condition are likely below average to average in most parts of the country (Figure 2).  Due to these factors, FEWS NET expects crop production in Lesotho to be below average.

    Green consumption of early crops has begun in most areas for early crops, while late crops are at the tasseling stage. The start of the main harvest brings opportunities for some labor, providing incomes for poor households which will further improve capacity of households to meet food and non-food basic requirements between March and June, likely resulting in improved food insecurity outcomes to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between March and June.

    The 2014/15 consumption year has seen stable food prices on account of very low import prices and a drop in fuel costs, which has resulted in relatively stable food access supplemented by existing safety net programs. However, with anticipated second consecutive poor local production, recent increases in fuel prices, increase in maize grain prices in South Africa and a likely drop in production, staple food prices are expected to remain above-average during the harvest season.

    The World Food Program (WFP) safety-net programs targeting 321,526 people are expected to continue through June, further strengthening food access for households. 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 food price spikes influenced by increase in market costs and increased local demand between April and June which could reduce the purchasing power of poor households. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    National eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), 2015 compared to 2014 and average

    Figure 2

    National eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), 2015 compared to 2014 and average

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Seasonal Water Resources Satisfaction Index (WRSI), March 1-10, 2015

    Figure 3

    Seasonal Water Resources Satisfaction Index (WRSI), March 1-10, 2015

    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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