Reference Date: 07-February-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Production prospects are favourable for 2014 cereal crop
Maize prices increased at the end of 2013
Food security conditions current stable
Production outlook favourable for 2014 crop
Harvesting of the 2014 cereal crop is expected to begin in April/May. Weather conditions have been generally favourable during the 2013/14 cropping season (October-June) and an above average harvest is expected this year, particularly in the large producing areas of the north-west lowlands. However, in the more marginal producing zones of the centre and south-east, production levels may be negatively affected by delayed planting following a late start of seasonal rains. During the last quarter of 2013 the government distributed agricultural inputs, subsidizing 50 percent of the cost, to all ten districts, assisting in improving input access for farmers.
Reduced imports in 2013/14, following larger domestic harvest
The larger domestic maize harvest in 2013, estimated at about 86 000 tonnes, resulted in a reduced import requirement for the 2013/14 marketing year (April/March), of approximately 100 000 tonnes. As of January, with two months of the marketing year remaining, current estimates indicate that approximately 51 000 tonnes of maize have been imported.
Maize prices rise at the end of 2013
In the capital, Maseru, prices of maize meal, which have been generally stable in 2013, rose in December, reflecting the rising grain prices in neighbouring South Africa, the country’s main supplier of maize imports. Prices are likely to come under further pressure if the high prices persist in South Africa. Furthermore, the weakening of the South Africa Rand, which the national currency, Loti, is pegged to, could add inflationary pressure to prices, given the country’s overall reliance on imported food goods.
Improved food security conditions in 2013
Overall, food security conditions improved sharply in 2013/14, on account of a rebound in domestic cereal production, and generally stable prices in 2013. The Lesotho Vulnerability Committee (LVAC) estimated that 223 055 persons are food insecure, with the largest proportion (27 percent) located in the western Maseru district. Assistance is currently being provided to bridge food gaps, while the start of the new harvest in April is expected to improve households’ supplies and food security conditions.