Sao Tomé & Principe

The isolated position of São Tomé and Príncipe has not prevented the development of a diverse range of agricultural crops. Surprisingly, though, the Chocolate Isle, as it is often called, has just 5 % of its land under cultivation at present.

The São Toméans are very fond of palm oil in their cooking, but local production is insufficient to meet domestic demand. This has led to palm oil becoming overpriced, forcing the population to reduce its daily consumption.

65 % of the Republic’s inhabitants work in agriculture, with crops including cocoa, bananas, peaches, coffee, coconuts, palm nuts, maize and cassava. The products are many and varied and, at present, there are two industrial production projects : one for the cocoa and one for palm oil.

The few palm plantations in operation are ageing and limited in size. In addition, the traditional method of oil extraction which is used lacks the productivity that this country, which is among the poorest in Africa, requires.

Aware of this shortcoming, the São Toméan government is implementing an ambitious economic development programme in the south of the island. The initiative focuses on rural areas and has two goals:
- to conserve primary forest;
- to produce palm oil to cover the local market’s needs.

This programme aims to attract foreign investors interested in participating in the creation of industrial plantations.

The fall in the cocoa exports of São Tomé and Príncipe has disturbed the balance of trade, and this little island’s dependence on official development assistance (50 % of GDP) makes it very vulnerable to exogenous events and shocks.

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