Lesotho last had normal rainfall between April and May 2015. This made it difficult for Basotho (the Lesotho people) to be engaged in winter ploughing due to scarce moisture. The first rains were expected between August, September, October and November, but it is reported that vegetation conditions experienced in November 2015 were at their lowest in 15 years. According to the December 2015 FEWSNET report the strong El Niño event enhanced probabilities of below-normal rainfall and continued dry conditions in Southern Africa. Lesotho`s onset of rains was delayed by 30-40 days affecting land preparation and other agricultural activities. Of the few people who managed to plant their fields, the crops were dying off due to this prolonged dry spell. These conditions also negatively affected livestock conditions due to poor pastures and limited availability of water.
The prolonged dry spells and drought not only affected maize production, but other crops such as sorghum, beans, peas and wheat have also been affected, and harvests are down and low yields are therefore expected. The drought situation resulted in a 51% cereal deficit of the required 247,000 metric tonnes. Out of 10 districts the five hard to reach districts in Lesotho are the most affected including Qacha’s Nek, Mokhotlong, Thaba Tseka, Quthing and Mafeteng. Table 1 below illustrates the decline in cereal production in the most affected districts, however some districts reported an increase in output on some cereals compared to the previous production year (2013/14) i.e. Leribe (Maize 4% and Wheat 179%) and Quthing (Wheat 81%).