Sao Tome, Sao Tome and Principe, 23 Feb – Sao Tome and Principe netted US$3.2 million from cocoa exports in 2006, which accounted for 99 percent of the country’s exports last year, according to the archipelago’s National Statistics Institute (INE).
INE added that revenue from cocoa exports rose 32.2 percent when accounted in dobras, the local currency, and that the rise in its dollar value was due to the improved international price of the product.
In terms of quantity, there was a rise of 0.9 percent in the period with cocoa exports rising from 2,413 tons in 2005 to 2,434 tons in 2006.
In the list of exports from Sao Tome and Principe in 2006, following cocoa, are coconut and coconut oil, accounting for 1 percent and 0.3 percent of total exports, respectively.
Cocoa, which in 2005 accounted for US$3.02 million in revenue, reached US$5.6 million in 2003, which was the highest figure of the last eight years, while the lowest was of US$2.9 million in 1999.
On the archipelago, which relies on foreign aid to cover over 50 percent of its budgetary expenses, the economy is based mainly on the export of agricultural products and cocoa accounts for 27 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Cocoa was introduced by Portuguese colonists to Sao Tome in the 19th century and its production levels have been falling over the last few decades due to lack of land on which to grow it, lack of financing and a lack of rigour in the treatment of the plantations.
Three weeks ago, the head of the Sao Tome and Principe government, Tomé Vera Cruz said that revenue from oil production should be applied to re-launching agriculture, particularly cocoa plantations.
Sao Tome and Principe expects to net US$28 million this year from the signing bonus from three oil blocs in its joint exploration area with Nigeria. (macauhub)