Felipe, 58, lives with his wife, son, and grandson. He’s been growing cacao for most of his adult life - 30 years. “I like farmers. We have to work otherwise we don’t have anything. It’s hard, but it’s a farmer’s life,” says Felipe.
Beside cacao, Felipe also receives income from corn sold at the Punta Gorda market, one hour down the road from San Jose, as well as beans and yams sold locally. He has used this money to invest in one of few solar panels in the village of San Jose, Toledo District, which is not connected to the grid due to poor road access. The solar panel is hooked to a battery and an inverter to provide electricity for stable phone use and light. What helped Felipe beat his peers in installing electricity in the home? “I never neglect anything,” he says, and lives by it.
Felipe will use the loan to invest in cleaning his cacao plots. Cleaning means cutting the underbrush to clear access to the trees for pruning and harvesting and is fundamental in preventing spread of mold in the rainy season. Cacao farms located in lowland tropical forest require cleaning every 3-4 months.
An entrepreneur at heart, Felipe is all about diversifying his crops and is one of few farmers to grow fresh vegetables – cabbage, tomato and peppers among others on his farm. Why diversify? “Corn is just not tasty without the pepper sauce to go with it,” he told us in perfect English – his second language after Maya Mopan.
About Maya Mountain Cacao
Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) is a for-profit social enterprise that sources premium cacao beans from smallholder farmers in Belize. Founded in 2010, it generates income for marginalized farmers while promoting sustainable agricultural practices in the southern part of the country.
These cacao farmers use Kiva credit to invest in farm maintenance, improvement and expansion. For example, they might hire workers to help with the harvest or buy inputs such as better tools and seedlings.