Maseru, Lesotho: April 2024 – In the wake of escalating raw white maize prices, Lesotho Flour Mills has taken the proactive step of revealing the underlying factors driving this unsettling trend. Following low rainfall and hotter than usual weather during the past two months, across Southern African countries , Lesotho Flour Mills finds itself at a crossroads, compelled to adjust maize meal prices.

The root cause of the price surge stems from a significant spike in South African raw white maize prices, a staple import for Lesotho Flour Mills. As reported by Lesotho Flour Mills’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Fourie du Plessis, the price of South African white maize surged by a staggering 39% within a span of just two months, catapulting from M3,800 per metric ton as of 31 January 2024, to M5,300 by 31 March 2024. This meteoric rise can be directly attributed to the adverse effects of the drought caused by the low rainfall and hotter than usual weather during the past two months.

Mr. Du Plessis underscored the severity of the situation, emphasizing that the ongoing drought has dealt a significant blow to agricultural yields, particularly in South Africa, where maize production is anticipated to plummet by 20% below initial projections. Such a shortfall inevitably translates to a substantial increase in maize meal prices, intensifying the plight of consumers already grappling with economic uncertainty.

Indisputably, the after-effects of this crisis extend far beyond national borders, as evidenced by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s declaration of a national disaster on Wednesday, 3 April 2024  due to drought conditions. With millions facing hunger, Zimbabwe urgently requires over $2 billion in aid to stave off the looming humanitarian catastrophe.

Acknowledging the profound impact of maize products prices on ordinary Basotho citizens, Lesotho Flour Mills remains steadfast in its commitment to mitigating the financial burden on consumers. Despite the grim outlook, the Lesotho Flour Mills has thus far managed to limit price increases for April to  7%. However, with forecasts pointing to further escalations in the coming months, Lesotho Flour Mills is acutely aware of the need for proactive measures to ensure the continued affordability of maize meal for all.

Looking ahead, Lesotho Flour Mills expresses cautious optimism, hoping for a reprieve in the form of rain in the weeks to come. A return to normal precipitation patterns would serve as a much-needed lifeline, tempering the adverse effects of the ongoing crisis and offering respite to both producers and consumers alike.

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