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Lesotho: Lesotho Agriculture Profile


Planting of 2015 cereal crops is well underway with below-normal rains at the start causing some delays
2014 cereal output was estimated at an average level
Maize prices decrease in capital Maseru, reflecting lower prices in South Africa (main supplier of imports)
Number of food insecure estimated to have increased in 2014/15

Below-normal rains at the start of 2014/15 cropping season

Rainfall at the start of the 2014/15 cropping season (October-June) was generally below normal. This has delayed planting activities but subsequent improvement in rainfall has restored some soil moisture. An estimated 18 500 people have been targeted to receive agricultural input support in the current cropping season from the Government and FAO.

Average cereal harvest estimated in 2014

The 2014 cereal crop, harvested in June this year, is estimated at 104 000 tonnes, similar to the previous year’s near-average output. At 86 000 tonnes, maize accounts for almost all of the cereal harvest, while the winter wheat crop, currently being harvested and forecast to remain unchanged, largely constitutes the remaining output. Despite a significant 26 percent increase in the area planted to maize, heavy rains and frost damage contributed to a reduction in yields and resulted in a marginally reduced output.

Faster maize import rate in 2014/15

Maize imports from South Africa between April and October 2014, in the 2014/15 marketing year (April/March), have reached about 83 000 tonnes, nearly twice the level of the same period last year, satisfying about 80 percent of the estimated import requirement. The lower prices in South Africa have contributed to the faster import rate.

Prices of maize meal decline in Maseru and remain generally stable elsewhere

Prices of maize meal in the capital, Maseru, declined between July and September, but remained 19 percent higher than last year. The recent decline reflects lower prices in South Africa, which were 20 percent below their year-earlier values in October 2014. Elsewhere, prices remained generally stable and comparable to the levels of the previous year.

Larger number of food insecure in 2014 compared to 2013

According to the 2014 Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) report, released in June, the estimated number of persons requiring food assistance increased to 447 760 from 223 055 in the previous year. The current level, however, still remains below the numbers estimated for 2010/11 and 2011/12. The highest concentration of food insecure persons are located in the western districts of Maseru, Mafeteng and Mohale's Hoek and will require food assistance for an expected four-month period from October/November 2014 to February/March 2015.