Approximately half of the country’s land area is devoted to farming, chiefly for export commodities. Most nutritious food produced here leaves the country.
In 2015, the country benefited from strong cacao production and plunging oil prices. But the small size of Sao Tome’s population and economy remains a significant obstacle to development. In 2015, more than 60 percent of the population was estimated to be living below the national poverty line of USD 1.70 per person per day. The mortality rate for children under five was high, at 51 per every thousand.
With Sao Tome heavily dependent on food imports, food availability is unpredictable. Infrastructure challenges exist given there is no deep sea port and landing planes is difficult during bad weather on the country’s one short airstrip. No cereals are cultivated on the islands.
The country is also prone to natural disasters such as floods and landslides, which negatively affect crops and road access as well as destroy houses and household assets.