Reference Date: 01-August-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Cereal production in 2014 estimated at an average level
Maize prices increase in Maseru, but remain generally stable elsewhere
Number of food insecure estimated to have increased in 2014/15
Average cereal harvest estimated in 2014
The 2014 cereal crop, which was harvested in May-June, is estimated at a comparable level to the previous year’s near-average output. At 86 000 tonnes, maize accounts for almost all of the cereal harvest (83 percent), while the winter wheat crop, to be harvested in November, largely constitutes the remaining output. Despite a significant 26 percent increase in the area planted to 2013/14 maize this year, heavy rain and frost damage contributed to a reduction in yields and resulted in a stunted output. Similarly, a 29 percent decrease in sorghum production was recorded. Preliminary estimates for the wheat crop indicate an unchanged output compared to last year, with an increase in plantings forecast to compensate for an expected reduction in yields.
Import requirements estimated to remain stable in 2014/15
Maize imports, mainly from South Africa, for the 2013/14 marketing year (April/March) were estimated at about 60 000 tonnes, about 60 percent below the previous year’s level, on account of the larger 2013 cereal harvest. For the current 2014/15 marketing year, import volumes are expected to remain relatively unchanged. However, the importation rate has increased this year, with approximately 45 000 tonnes of maize imported between April and July 2014, compared to about 20 000 tonnes during the same period last year. The sharp decrease in South African maize prices may have contributed to the faster import rate.
Prices remain generally stable, except in Maseru
Prices of maize meal in the capital, Maseru, continued their upward trend in June 2014, and were about 16 percent up on last year. Elsewhere, prices remained generally stable and comparable to the levels of the previous year. The sharp decrease in South African prices, the country’s main supplier of maize, since April is expected to put downward pressure on domestic prices.
Number of food insecure increase in 2014 compared to 2013
According to the latest Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) report for 2014/15, released in June, the estimated number of persons requiring food assistance increased to 447 760 from 223 055 in the previous year. The current level, however, still remains below the numbers estimated in 2010/11 and 2011/12. The highest concentration of food insecure persons are located in the western districts of Maseru, Mafeteng and Mohale's Hoek and will require food assistance for an expected four-month period from October/November 2014 to February/March 2015.