Sao Tome and Principe is a small island nation in Africa, close to the equator. It has a population of less than 200,000, and extreme poverty is widespread in the country, particularly in rural areas.
Sao Tome and Principe is Africa’s smallest country geographically and relies heavily on agriculture, specifically the production of cocoa. Approximately 95 percent of the country’s exports are in cocoa; however, due to recent droughts and a lack of sustainable agriculture in Sao Tome and Principe, production has steadily decreased.
Current State of the Economy
Roughly 60 percent of the nation’s employment is in the rural sector and as of 2016, the unemployment rate was just under 14 percent. Since the nation is so small, the economy doesn’t have much room to grow — it increases approximately four percent per year. This growth is not enough for the country to sustain itself, and due to the lack of sustainable agriculture in Sao Tome and Principe, the economy cannot flourish or grow any more than it currently is.
With a sustainable agriculture system, the country will be able to decrease poverty, increase employment, and by extension, better the economy.
Efforts Towards Sustainable Agriculture
Since the late 1980s, the World Bank introduced and implemented projects in Sao Tome and Principe to help strengthen the country’s agriculture and production. Though most of these projects have been met with limited success, the World Bank has invested over 20 million in Sao Tome and Principe’s agriculture over the years.
Most projects still being implemented by the World Bank are now dedicated towards financials and budgeting; however, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has taken over improving and developing agriculture within the nation.
In November 2010, AfDB introduced the Infrastructure Rehabilitation for Food Security Support Project (PRIASA). The aims of this project are to increase appropriate infrastructure and support rural communities in creating sustainable agriculture in Sao Tome and Principe. These efforts will increase crop production in these areas as well as create more jobs thus decreasing unemployment.
Improvements Already Underway
Sao Tome and Principe has already reaped benefits from the project in the last seven years. The nation has integrated gravity-fed irrigation systems, built greenhouses and created and installed solar dryers. All of these improvements can hopefully lead to the continued presence of sustainable agriculture in Sao Tome and Principe.
The project also helps support the infrastructure development needed to create sustainable agriculture. AfDB has roads, offices and modernized technology in Sao Tome and Principe, and so far, the project has reached over 10 thousand beneficiaries.
Training and Continued Development
Training is also a part of the initiative. Over 100 technicians and officials of the Ministry of Rural Development in Sao Tome and Principe have been specifically trained in how to sustain the developments made to the country’s agricultural system.
While improvements still have to be made before the nation can state complete sustainable agriculture, Sao Tome and Principe is definitely making significant headway. With the groundwork laid, Sao Tome and Principe has a strong chance of making themselves a prosperous and fortified country.
– Courtney Wallace