Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will likely persist through January 2020
Aggravated by below-average harvests, the lean season in Lesotho has arrived earlier than usual. Many very poor and poor households are relying solely on markets for food and are not able to meet their minimum food needs. Households are expected to continue relying on markets for food through at least January 2020 and households with below average incomes. This is expected to continue negatively affect access to food from the markets. Currently, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is widespread and expected to continue through January 2020.
Water reservoirs for vegetable production are drying earlier than normal as the result of the poor 2018/19 rainfall. This is affecting production and limiting many households’ ability to earn an income from vegetable sales. Pasture depletion has also resulted in the deterioration of livestock body conditions, driving livestock prices down. Some households are engaging in domestic work; however, wage rates are below average as supply surpasses demand. In-kind payments are also below average due to lack of food stocks for payment. Opportunities for in-kind payments are not expected to improve during the winter wheat harvest.
Planning for the 2019/20 agriculture season is under way, however the forecast of below-average rainfall especially during the first half of the season is likely to affect cropping activities. There is an increase in availability of opportunities for land preparation especially in the mountains; however, wage rates are below average. Winter wheat production for year 2019, harvested in November/December, is forecasted to be 50 to 70 percent below average due to a decrease in cropped area and yield.
Increasing demand on purchases is likely to put upward pressure on staple food prices, especially as the lean season peaks. This will further erode households purchasing power and increase food insecurity. Availability of maize meal and other main staples on the markets remains favorable, with near-average prices. Households are able to access supplies provided they have the economic means.
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