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AfDB modernises agriculture in São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is a small island nation located on the Equator, about 450 kilometres off the coast of Nigeria. In 2011, the country’s population was estimated at less than 200,000 inhabitants. The rural sector occupies an important place and accounts for 60% of the workforce. Despite efforts to develop the country’s productive potential and promote food crops, it still continues to rely heavily on imports.
An analysis of the various constraints highlights issues of isolation, value chain weaknesses and low stakeholder capacity. In addition, low infrastructure development, with structurally high costs affect the competitiveness of all sectors of the economy. This situation prompted the Bank to finance the Infrastructure Rehabilitation for Food Security Support Project (PRIASA) in November 2010. The project aims to provide communities with appropriate infrastructure and support them so they can regularly produce and sell agricultural and fishery products in sufficient quantities and with better quality.
After five years of implementation, the Infrastructure Rehabilitation for Food Security Support Project (PRIASA) has achieved many visible results. These include:
- Rehabilitation of 10 road sections estimated at 23 km based on a community approach;
- Rehabilitation of 6 gravity-fed irrigation networks to serve 330 hectares of agricultural land;
- Installation of 14 greenhouse shelters for nurseries on a pilot basis, and the creation of 6 solar dryers;
- Modernisation of a fish market in Santana, and construction of a landing pad for fishermen in Neves;
- Construction of 4 cold rooms and 3 ice factories for fish conservation;
- Modernisation and equipping of the Centre de Recherche Agronomique et Technologique (Agricultural Research and Technology Centre, CIAT) ;
- Rehabilitation and equipping of the Centre de Perfectionnement Agropastoral (Advanced Agro-Pastoral Training Centre, CATAP), and financing of 1,500 hours of training involving 63 students;
- Construction of new premises and offices for the Fisheries Department in São Tomé, as well as the Fisheries Control and Monitoring Centre, and the modernisation of the fishery products control laboratory;
- Support for structuring and organising 30 producers’ associations;
- Training and sensitisation of 1,380 fishermen and fish merchants; and
- Training of 145 technicians and officials of the Ministry for Rural Development.
PRIASA has directly impacted more than 10,000 beneficiaries of which almost half are women who are playing a key role in the marketing and processing of products. The building of roads based on a community approach has helped to consolidate skills and expertise of Road Maintenance Interest Groups (GIME), while promoting local employment. The project has helped to develop specific expertise and bring new skills to areas that are key to São Tomé and Príncipe, these include irrigation development at the community level, distribution and maintenance of cold chain equipment, modernisation and equipping of the agricultural products analysis laboratory within CIAT, as well as improved monitoring of fishing activities and catch statistics. Other areas that the project has developed are value chain development, and establishment of a gender profile in the agricultural sector. The project has also enabled many national technicians to receive training and acquire new knowledge by traveling to other countries on exchange visits.