The Restoration Initiative (TRI) project in Sao Tome and Principe’s investments are helping to boost a responsible economy based on the restoration, conservation and sustainable management of forest landscapes and farmlands. António Camuenha Alberto, an ecoguide and friend of biodiversity, has been living in the project community in São Tome and Principe for more than ten years and has taken some time to speak to our team. Here is what he has to say.
"We have 1.5 hectares of land where we have developed our business activity for more than a year. Our business, BioTech, is developed around traditional medicine: we work with medicinal plants, making various products, remedies and aromatic teas. Our main objective is to highlight the richness of our Obô natural park, the buffer zones and the secondary forest where we get out ingredients", explained António Camuenha.
After having met his partner and having taken part in various eco-guiding courses, BioTech was created to conserve and value our biodiversity and make use of forest products in a sustainable manner. BioTech works with and involves the farmers who live near their land in the implementation of the project in Sao Tome and Principe.
"Five farmers who live nearby became our suppliers. Some provide vanilla, while others provide wild pepper and other plants that we use for our products," he said.
The BioTech project has benefited from TRI/STP funding to support bankable projects. António and his partner grabbed this opportunity to boost their business.
"The funding we received helped us take a firmer step. With this support we were able to make a transformation centre, seal all our land, make an esplanade and plant several aromatic tea species such as gemgibre, humming, pepper, and cinnamon. We also have medicinal plants such as stick three, cubango and more," said this entrepreneur.
In addition to the remedies and aromatic teas, BioTech also produces leaves for bathing and dreams of building a spa. “It will be a kind of "massage workshop" where people can come, see the production, have a tea, receive a massage, take a bath of medicinal plants and leaves and come to our store and buy the teas and other products that are well packed with the proper explanations," Antonio said.
Regarding the TRI/STP project, António Camuenha Alberto said "The project arrived at the right time for us and allowed us to go further. It is contributing and I am sure it will contribute more to our economy. I thank the project for the support it has given not only to us but to other entrepreneurs. I take the opportunity to encourage other companies and entrepreneurs to pursue TRI/STP opportunities," concluded António Camuenha Alberto said.
One of the unique features of the TRI STP project is the degree to which its impacts will be felt throughout the country. In meeting the project’s target of 35,500 ha under restoration, over one-third of the country’s land area will be directly impacted by the initiative, and most of the population will likely participate and/or benefit to some degree from the project outcomes.