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Lesotho registers low harvest due to torrential rains

By Liapeng Raliengoane


The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has reported that due to torrential rains, low harvest was registered in the past farming season.

This was revealed by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Hon. Keketso Sello during a media briefing on Monday.

The Minister has cautioned the farmers as the country readies for the new farming season 2022/2023.

Hon. Sello revealed that torrential rains that were experienced from November 2021 until March 2022 affected yields because some fields and produce were flown away by floods while some fields could not be weeded due to too much moisture in the fields. He indicated that the heavy rains also hindered wheat harvesting since it was too moist for the harvesting machines.

“The ministry of Agriculture and Food Security encourages the farmers to start preparing for summer cropping. We encourage farmers to start preparing their soil now and begin sourcing inputs in anticipation of this year’s cropping season. This year our country is blessed with the ongoing good rain falls and the Department of Meteorology has predicted that the country will experience normal to below normal rainfall just as the past year,” Hon. Sello said.

He further highlighted that the ministry will continue to subsidize seeds and fertilizers for farmers. The pesticides are to be sold at a 70% low rate while fertilizers will be at 80% low rate. These inputs will be available in all districts of Lesotho while the pesticides and seeds at the ministry’s storage facility at Ha Foso.

Hon. Sello blamed the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war as the source of high prices in agricultural inputs, thus the ministry bought less than usual inputs and the farmers are expected to share and bear with one another.

He said these agricultural inputs will be available to farmers on Tuesday 16 2022.

Department of Crops Director Rorisang Mantutle said due to the heavy rains, this year’s harvest is 0.2 tonnes countrywide and this is a low rate compared to the usual 1.5 tonnes.

The Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) which is mandated by law under the coordination of Disaster Management Authority (DMA) embarked on the annual Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis for the current year 2022/23 last month  (July) and the results are as follows:

Hazards and Shocks that affected livelihoods: Heavy rains received from December 2021 to March 2022; caused water logging which inhibited other agricultural activities including weeding, some crops washed away hence reducing expected harvest in 2022, reduced yield per hectare. High food & non- food items and fuel prices increased drastically. The increase in fuel prices had let to an increase of 30% transport fare within 12 km distance and 20% from 13km and above.

Under the food and nutrition security analysis, the report states that: the overall inflation in May 2022 is 7.8% compared to 6.9% in May 2021. The increase is as a result of global increase in crude oil prices. Food inflation decreased steadily since May 2021 from 10.9% to 7.4% in May 2022. Food prices are higher than 2021 and above 5 years average prices.

On the Food and Nutrition Security Status the report states that: Area planted was larger than previous agricultural season because more households planted their fields. 2021/2022 Crop production is lower than 2021 harvest. South Africa recorded highest maize production in two years – 2020-2021, and 2022 production had declined by 10%. Despite the 10% decrease of maize production the food exports to Lesotho are expected to be normal.