Below-average 2017/18 crop yields expected due to poor seasonal rainfall
In large parts of Mafeteng, Maseru, Berea, Leribe and part of Butha-Buthe districts, total cumulative rainfall has been 55-70 percent of normal. These rainfall anomalies are a slight improvement in comparison to the previous month, but these moisture deficits are still likely to have negative impacts on crop development and yields for the 2018 harvest. Some crops are reported to be stunted, but still growing because of recent February rainfall. Concern for key-growing zones in Lesotho was included in a regional Special Alert recently released by FAO.
Food stocks among households are expected to be depleted in January/February and market purchases will be the main source of food, in addition to in-kind labor payments. Current maize meal prices are lower than last year and at near average levels. Access to green foods for consumption is usually available in late February but will be reduced this season for most poor households due to the dry conditions.
The erratic and poor rainfall this season is expected to contribute to below-normal local labor opportunities between February and July. Normally, household income sources during the months of January/February include remittances from relatives working in mining in South Africa, shearing wool, on-farm weeding labor, self-employment, livestock sales, and safety-net programming. By April, food availability is expected to improve at the household level as harvests become available. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area outcomes are expected to continue in Lesotho between February and May, improving to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between June and September.