The forecast late rains would mean a late start to the new agricultural season. It also means the current high prices of food imposed by Covid-19 are likely to continue for a longer period until the agriculture sector recovers. The poverty situation will also remain dire and likely to deepen.
The country already experienced poor production of cereal crops due to delayed season in 2019/20 summer cropping and severe drought in October and November the same year. The Lesotho Disaster Management Authority (DMA) has clearly stated in its 2020 Vulnerability Assessment report that normal to below normal rains are expected from July to October, resulting in a late start to the agricultural season.
The main objective of the report was to analyse food and nutrition security, and vulnerability of the population of Lesotho in 2020/21 consumption year as well as provide policymakers, government, and other stakeholders with information for decision making and development programming. Currently, according to the Bureau of Statistics, 24.1 per cent of the country’s population is living in extreme poverty, while 49.7 per cent of the population is generally poor.
The statistics could be much higher as the situation has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic which has caused even further disruptions as many people have lost jobs. “Decrease in crop production is estimated at 30 per cent, compared to last year crop production. Both rural and urban populations are likely to experience severe food insecurity for the consumption year 2020/20,” the DMA said in its report that was released last week. It indicated that all the food security indicators portray a severe food insecurity situation for the 2020/21 consumption year.