Between April and July, households will be engaged in the main annual harvest. Although official harvest estimates are currently unavailable, key informants report that households expect a better harvest than last year due to the good rains throughout the season. Household food access has improved with the start of the harvest, reducing household dependency on market food purchases as the lean season end, improving food security outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). As the harvest peaks between May and July, outcomes are expected to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through August as households redirect income to non-food purchases.
Household access to cash income is projected to improve between May and August as households engage in nonagricultural labor opportunities. Currently, households are engaged in harvest labor opportunities, improving inkind payments for very poor and poor households. Offseason income-earning activities are beginning to seasonally increase as agricultural labor opportunities dwindle. While harvesting is still a priority, households are expected to be engaging in gardening activities soon. However, the risk of frost during the peak of the winter season will likely slow down vegetable production until late July.
Although the daily COVID-19 positive test rate has fallen, following regional trends, by April 28, 2021, Lesotho still has 4,463 active cases. According to key informants, the economy is operating and near-normal, improving access to income and food, particularly for urban households. With normalizing conditions in South Africa's labor markets, income from labor migration and remittances is slowly improving. In late March, Lesotho launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive, prioritizing health workers and vulnerable populations, administering 16,000 doses by mid-April.
Maize grain supply to local markets is expected to improve with the ongoing harvest. Although prices have been trending above average, maize meal prices are expected to stabilize through the post-harvest period due to access to local harvests.
Expectations of a good harvest in South Africa are also likely to lower local maize grain prices. At the local level, own production is expected to improve household access to grains through August along with in-kind payments and trading.
Maize meal prices are expected to remain stable through September, driven by the expected good harvest in South Africa.