Love for the land prompts São Tomé city dwellers to abandon the city for the farm | African development bank
Alfredo Rompão is not a farmer like the others. Along with his 10 siblings, he was born and raised in São Tomé, the capital of São Tomé and Principe, light years away from the lush hills of São Nicolau, a village in the central part about 7 miles or 12 km South. -To the west of São Tomé where he now lives, working the fertile land to which he is deeply attached.
Alfredo is the only one of his brothers and sisters to have chosen agriculture. “I’m happy and I like what I’m doing,” he explains in Portuguese-laced Creole, in the middle of his fields.
The agriculture and fisheries sectors could play a major role in reducing poverty and improving food security in São Tomé and Príncipe. It could also promote the social and economic development of the country. Collectively, these sectors contribute at least 20% of the country’s gross domestic product, 80% of its export earnings and employ more than 60% of the workforce. However, both sectors suffer from a lack of modern infrastructure, limited technical capacity and, in general, a lack of investment.
To help the government meet these challenges, the African Development Fund – the concessional lending arm of the African Development Bank Group – has contributed nearly $7 million to launch the Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program to Support Food Security (PRIASA) in 2015. The program focused on the modernization of the main artisanal fishing landing sites in Sao Paolo, Neves, Santo Antonio and Santana. It also rehabilitated and extended 27 kilometers of feeder roads and 10 irrigation systems. In addition, it has created six agricultural processing units.
Through the program, Alfredo and other farmers received training in cultivation, agriculture and the use of greenhouses to help them adopt efficient and more sustainable farming practices.
“Thanks to the greenhouses we have, things are changing. We have shelters, greenhouses and even a road thanks to the project”, explains Alfredo. The number of farmers increased, resulting in increased agricultural production and a greater variety of products. “Now we have a balanced diet,” he says.
Alfredo is even happier because he works with his wife and their children. “Farming is the lifeblood of the family,” he insists. “São Tomé is a green country, it can give us a lot of food. We just have to throw the seeds into the ground. What I wish for São Tomé and for my children is that we can have access to more training, have more seeds and be successful in our work.