GIEWS Country Brief: Lesotho 23-March-2020

News and Press Release
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  • Improved rainfall since December 2019 boosted production prospects of 2020 cereal crops, following earlier unfavourable weather conditions

  • Cereal imports estimated below-average in 2019/20, as drawdown of stocks limited import needs

  • Cereal prices strengthened in 2019, on account of increased import costs

  • Food insecurity worsened as result of reduced harvest and estimated 433 410 people need food assistance until end-March 2020

Improved rainfall since December 2019 boosted production prospects of 2020 cereal crops

The 2020 cereal crops, mainly maize and sorghum, will be harvested from April and, based on remote sensing data, vegetation conditions are favourable in most cropped areas.

Rainfall deficits were recorded at the start of the season during October and November 2019. The poor rains are expected to have delayed planting operations and spurred a contraction in sowings. As a result, the planted area with cereals is estimated at a level close to the previous five-year average or slightly below.

The late-planted crops, which are likely to be harvested from June onwards, face an increased risk of frost damage during the coming winter months, particularly in the mountainous regions.

Increased precipitation since December 2019 boosted soil moisture reserves and resulted in an improvement of vegetation conditions across most of the main producing areas in the west and northwest (see the Agricultural Stress Index map). As a result, the 2020 cereal production is forecast at a near-average level, compared to the sharply reduced output obtained in 2019.