The flourishing palm groves of Agripalma are the only industrial oil palm plantations in the Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe.
Given the huge need for palm oil to meet local market demand, the São Toméan government has decided to introduce investment policies to attract agro-industrial investors. In 2009, São Tomé and the Socfin Group concluded an agreement for the creation of Agripalma, a concession of just under 5 000 hectares in the south of the island to be used for industrial oil palm cultivation.
A maximum of 60% of the area of the 4 917 hectares concession is devoted to oil palm plantations. Today, 2100 hectares of palm groves have been planted and the factory – soon to be constructed – will become productive in 2019.
For Agripalma, the development of the plantation is necessarily coupled with that of its workers and of the surrounding communities, including building and maintaining schools and kindergartens, donating equipment and toys and providing the annual school fees for the sons and daughters of the staff. As a major player in the development of the region, the plantation has integrated into the local area in various ways, including by supporting the annual community festivals of the plantation’s local population.
With the same purpose in mind, the plantation provides jobs suited to pensioners who wish to keep working, because the statutory pension is inadequate for their needs.
The economic activity created by the plantation provides additional income for the local community, where many small and medium-sized businesses have flourished since 2010. This economic dynamism is changing the character of this area, where the average daily income was less than €1 before the creation of the plantation.
Today, Agripalma is a major economic player on the island, and it has become the largest private employer in São Tomé and Príncipe, Agripalma is also the only large-scale plantation on the island.
Agripalma started the certification of its operations following the “organic farming” requirements. For several years now, Agripalma has not used any chemical fertilizers or biocides in its plantation. Agripalma obtained certification of its palm fruit and palm oil production in December 2017.