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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 04-July-2017


  1. Maize production forecast to rebound strongly to well above-average level in 2017

  2. As a result of production gains in 2017, cereal import forecast for 2017/18 has been reduced to below-average level

  3. Food security conditions expected to improve in 2017/18 mostly reflecting larger agricultural output

Cereal production in 2017 forecast at bumper level

Harvesting of the 2017 summer cereal crops is nearly complete and production is forecast at a well above-average level of 238 000 tonnes, marking a significant increase compared to the drought-reduced level of 2016. A steep upturn in maize production accounts for the bulk of the rise, forecast at 200 000 tonnes, while there was also a sharp increase, in relative terms, for sorghum production, with production set to reach about 28 000 tonnes. Prospects for the winter wheat crop, to be harvested in the last quarter of 2017, are also favourable, with production forecast at an average level of 10 000 tonnes.

Favourable weather conditions were the main driver behind this year’s improved output, which encouraged a large expansion in plantings and are expected to boost maize yields to a well above-average level. Input support programmes by the Government and FAO also helped augment farmers’ productive capacity, enabling them to capture the benefits of the favourable seasonal rains.

Imports requirements reduced in 2017/18

Imports of maize in the 2017/18 marketing year (April/March) are forecast at approximately 55 000 tonnes, under the assumption that per capita consumption will be sustained.

In the previous marketing year, 135 000 tonnes of maize were imported, nearly one-third above the previous five-year average. The bulk of this volume was imported from South Africa, with just under one-third imported from outside of the subregion.

Prices of maize meal fall moderately

Prices of maize meal have fallen moderately since the start of 2017, mostly on account of the declining prices in South Africa, which supplied about 75 percent of the country’s consumption requirements in the 2016/17 marketing year. The implementation of the Government price subsidy programme for maize meal, beans and pulses from mid-2016, which aimed to reduce the retail prices for consumers by 30 percent for a period of one year, also contributed to the decreases, while the improved agricultural output in 2017 is expected to help sustain downward price pressure in the immediate period.

Food security conditions expected to improve in 2017/18

The food security situation is expected to improve in 2017/18, which would mostly be the result of the larger agricultural output and lower food prices. In the previous year, the number of food insecure people was estimated at about 709 000, according to the 2016 Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s (LVACs) evaluation. Of this number, approximately 491 000 people required emergency food assistance, with the remaining households requiring livelihood protection support. The results of the 2017 assessment are expected to be published in July and early indications point to a reduction in the number of food insecure.