Sao Tome, Sao Tome and Principe, 25 May – Sao Tome and Principe sold US$3.02 million’s worth of cocoa, which accounted for 95.6 percent of the archipelago’s exports last year, official figures showed.
According to the Sao Tome National Statistics Institute, there was a 1 percent improvement in cocoa exports between January and December 2005 when considered in terms of the nominal value of the local currency.
According to the document to which Macauhub had access, the slight growth in cocoa exports in terms of value (95.6 percent in 2005 against 96.5 percent in 2004) was due to improved cocoa prices on the international market.
In terms of quantity, the amount of cocoa exported fell by 3.8 percent, or 3,293 tons in 2005 from 3,427 tones in 2004.
Cocoa accounted for US$3.02 million of exports, and was followed by coconuts (US$950,000) and coconut oil (US$230,000).
In 2005, the country’s balance of trade deficit totaled US$46.29 million, resulting from estimated imports of US$49.69 million, against US$3.4 million in exports.
The Sao Tome economy, which relies on international aid to cover over 50 percent of budget expenditure, is mainly based on exporting agricultural products, particularly cocoa, which supplies some 27 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Contacted by Maucuhub, Sao Tome and Principe’s director-general of Agriculture, Tomás Cardoso, said that cocoa production had been falling over the past few decades due to a lack of usable land because of unfavorable climate conditions, a lack of financing, as well as a total lack of rigor in treatment of this agricultural product.
Cocoa was introduced to the archipelago in the second half of the 19th century by Portuguese colonists and plantations currently cover a 26,076 hectare area of the total 44,759.99 hectares the archipelago covers, followed by coconut plantations, which take up 7,676 hectares and coffee with 984 hectares, according to government figures. (macauhub)