Reference Date: 05-August-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Significant recovery of cereal production in 2013
Maize price remain stable
Food security conditions improve, benefiting from larger maize harvest
Cereal production recovers in 2013
Harvesting of the main 2012/13 season cereal crops was completed in June. Estimates from the Bureau of Statistics’ assessment in April, indicate a strong recovery in production from last year’s poor output. Estimate puts the maize crop at 86 190 tonnes, more than double the level of the previous year’s output, which was revised upwards to approximately 42 000 tonnes. Both an increase in the area planted and better yields, on account of generally favourable weather conditions and the Government’s input subsidy programmes, contributed to the production gains. In regard to other crops, sorghum production is estimated to have increased, owing to larger plantings that more than compensated for an estimated drop in yields. While improved wheat yields, despite a reduced area planted, increased production to just above average levels. Some crop losses were also recorded due to an outbreak of army worms.
Overall, cereal production is estimated at 106 000 tonnes in 2013.
Larger domestic harvest reduces import requirements in 2013/14
Imports of maize for the 2012/13 marketing year (April/March) were recorded at 140 000 tonnes, compared to the 125 000 tonnes imported in the previous year. The increase is on account of a reduced domestic production in 2012, while a draw-down of stocks also helped to bridge the larger cereal deficit. In the current 2013/14 marketing year, import requirements are estimated at about 110 000 tonnes, reflecting a vastly improved harvest in 2013, while it is also expected that national stocks will be replenished. With a comparatively small change in domestic wheat production in 2013, imports of wheat are expected to remain stable.
Stable maize meal prices observed across the country
Prices of maize meal in June 2013 were slightly below their levels of one year earlier. The larger 2013 harvest and lower prices in neighbouring South Africa, the main source of country’s maize supply exerted downward pressure that contributed to the lower prices. However, a continuing weakening of the South Africa Rand, which the national currency, Loti, is pegged to, could add inflationary pressure to prices, given the country’s reliance on imported food goods.
Improved food security conditions in 2013
Recently released results from the 2013 national vulnerability assessment (LVAC) in July, indicate a sharp improvement in food security conditions, compared to the previous year. The rebound in crop production to above average levels, generally stable food prices and humanitarian assistance have contributed to the more favourable conditions this year. An estimated 223 055 persons were assessed to be food insecure, with the largest proportion (27 percent) located in western Maseru district, representing a 70 percent decline relative to 2012. The report recommends that food assistance, approximately 1 500 tonnes of maize, is distributed to the affected population for four months between October/November 2013 and January/February 2014. Although the assessment points to a more positive outcome in 2013/14, stunting levels, an indicator for chronic malnutrition, are estimated at about 44 percent, which is considered at a critical level.