São Tomé and Príncipe
The insular position of São Tomé and Príncipe has not prevented the development of a wide range of agricultural crops. Surprisingly, though, the Chocolate Island, as it is often called, has presently only 5% of its land under cultivation.
The inhabitants of São Tomé and Príncipe like to cook with palm oil, however, local production is insufficient to meet domestic demand. This has resulted in overpriced palm oil, forcing the population to reduce its daily consumption.
65% of the Republic’s inhabitants work in the agricultural sector: cocoa, banana, fishing, coffee, coconuts, palm nuts, maize and cassava. There are numerous and various products available. However, there are currently only two industrial projects: one for the cocoa and one for palm oil industry.
The few productive palm plantations are ageing and limited in size. In addition, the traditional oil extraction method is not productive enough for this country, which is among the poorest in Africa.
Aware of this shortcoming, the government of São Tomé is implementing an ambitious economic development program in the south of the island. The initiative focuses on rural areas and has two goals:
To conserve primary forest;
To produce enough palm oil to meet domestic demand.
This program aims to attract foreign investors interested in participating in industrial plantation development.
The fall in São Tomé and Príncipe’s cocoa export disturbed the trade balance. Moreover, its strong dependence on official development assistance (50% of GDP) makes the island very vulnerable to exogenous events and shocks.