Lesotho Key Message Update: As the lean season ends with the beginning of the green harvests, food security improves, March 2022

Key Messages

• March marks the end of the lean season in Lesotho, when most households are expected to have depleted food stocks from the 2021 harvest with increased reliance on market purchases for food. At the same time, green consumption has started for some households. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely ongoing in some areas of the country. Although, as the green harvest is beginning, many households have started to access own-produced foods. As the harvest becomes fully established, food security outcomes are expected to improve in the coming months.

• Above-average rainfall for the January to February period led to favorable crop development across much of the country, notably for maize and sorghum. The maize and sorghum harvest begins in May. National production is likely to be above both last year and the five-year average.

• Seasonal workers are returning to South Africa in search of labor, as casual labor opportunities typically decline within Lesotho. The lifting of restrictions on the movement of people and the opening of industries resulted in the recovery of jobs and incomes. The lifting of restrictions affects both the workforce within the country and migrant workers heading to South Africa. However, these opportunities and the level of remittances remain below pre-pandemic levels.

• The monthly price of maize meal was stable in January and near last year’s levels but significantly above the five-year average. The stable levels generally reflect adequate regional supplies of maize. However, there was an uptick in edible oil and wheat flour prices for the past four months. Prices for edible oil and wheat flour were above last year and the five-year average. Following the invasion of Ukraine and sanctions on Russia, global prices for energy and food commodities and freight costs increased. As Lesotho is a net importer of these commodities, there will likely be some price transmission to domestic markets. Food prices are expected to remain high compared to last year and the five-year average and will negatively impact purchasing power of market-dependent households.

Source: Famine Early Warning System Network