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Stable food prices, ongoing safety-net and subsidy programs, and the start of green consumption in February to March together with income opportunities associated with agriculture activities, are all expected to contribute to sufficient access to food and production costs resulting in Stress (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes from December-March.
Seasonal rains are yet to start in the western part of the country and where it has started the moisture levels are satisfactory to support planting and emergence of crops, which gives fair prospects of the season in most parts except in western parts covering, the southern lowlands, Senque River Valley and Foothills Livelihood Zones.
A combination of ongoing safety nets reaching 339,500 people, agriculture support programs by NGOs and FAO targeting 18,500 households and the ongoing government input subsidy program is expected to improve access food and production costs for targeted households. These programs are expected to meet the livelihood and survival requirements of most of the 447,760 people the LVAC identified as at risk of food insecurity for the 2014/15 consumption year.
Southern Lowlands, Foothills and Senque River Valley Livelihood Zones
Below-average agricultural labor incomes due to above average supply of people seeking for labour opportunities
Reduced incomes and high prices will result in Poor households having reduced purchasing power between October and December.
Prices for staple maize are 74-95 percent above prices during same time in 2010, the reference year.
The start-of-season for the 2014/15 agricultural season has been near normal across most of Lesotho, including the major cropping area of the Northern Lowlands Livelihood Zone. A slight delay (about 10 days) has been observed in western parts of the country. Nevertheless, the Soil Water Index from mid-November suggests soil moisture is satisfactory to support planting and emergence of planted crops (Figure 1) across Lesotho. Forecasts for normal to above-normal rains between from December to March suggest at least average crop production is likely for the 2014/15 agricultural season, and that labor demand for planting and weeding activities will be normal. Income from these labor opportunities and expectations for stable food prices are likely to result in stable purchasing power for poor households between December and March. Consumption of green crops starting in February, as is normal, will provide an additional food source for households between February and March.
Supply of maize meal and grain from South Africa is expected to remain stable, where prices are about 20 percent less than the same time last year, and about nine percent below the four-year average for October. Prices for South African maize grain and meal are likely to increase in line with seasonal trends through March. Average retail maize meal prices in Lesotho have slightly decreased but remain about 74-95 percent above those observed during the 2009/10 reference year. These high prices, coupled with below-average income (both agricultural and non-agricultural) earlier in the year, continues to constrain purchasing power for poor households.
The World Food Programme reached 339,500 people in October through safety-net programs distributing 1,721 MT of food. The programs are expected to increase to cover 340,000 people in 2015, improving food access for selected households. Additionally, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International organizations are targeting 18,500 people with agriculture input support, together with ongoing government input subsidy program, which will improve livelihood protection needs for at-risk households.
Based on the above information, FEWS NET projects Stress (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes, while various safety-net and agriculture support programs will continue through March 2015 throughout the country. This outlook would worsen in the event of any instability of staple food prices or poor distribution of the projected normal to above normal rains from December to March.
Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year
Source: FEWS NET
Figure 1. Start-of-season anomaly (left) for mid-November 2014; Soil Water Index (right) for mid-November 2014.
Source: FEWS NET/USGS
Figure 2. Maize meal prices, retail domestic (Maseru) and imported (South Africa).
Source: GIEWS 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.