Lesotho Key Message Update: The start of the rainy season kickstarts planting amid higher agricultural input prices, November 2022

Key Messages

Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are currently driven by high food prices and below-average income, lowering purchasing power, limiting household access to food. These outcomes are expected to persist until the next harvest in March/April 2023. During early 2023, more households are expected to become market reliant with high and increasing food prices. This will likely result in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through April. Household access to food is likely to improve with the harvest, as households consume own produced foods. Although, due to continued high prices, households are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

Rainfall for the 2022/23 agricultural season started in October with widespread favorable rainfall. In some areas of the country, the season started early than normal. Key informants have indicated that while early-season rainfall has facilitated planting; however, persistent rainfall hasn’t allowed sufficient time for farmers to plant. The government provides subsidized agricultural inputs to farmers due to the high agricultural input prices; however, subsidies are not expected to allow for normal access to planting inputs. Above-average rainfall is expected across Lesotho between October 2022 and April 2023 and is expected to drive normal planting levels. Although, crop development could be negatively impacted by limited access to fertilizers and above-average rainfall, which can lead to leaching of nutrients in the soils.

Households of all wealth groups are engaging in land preparation and planting activities. The better-off and middle households are hiring poorer households, improving the availability of agricultural labor. On-farm labor opportunities are expected to increase with increasing farming activities as the 2022/23 rainy season is expected to be fully established. However, availability and income from agricultural labor activities are expected to be below average throughout the projection period due to high inflation and above agricultural input prices, decreasing expendable income for middle and better-off households.

Annual inflation stabilized between August and September; however, it remains among the highest in recent years. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the annual inflation rate in September was 9.2 percent; the last time inflation was near this level was in May 2021, when inflation was nearly seven percent. Food, fuel, and transportation price increases primarily drive the high inflation rate. This high inflation rate erodes households’ purchasing power and weighs heavily on middle and better households’ hiring power.

Source: Famine Early Warning System Network