Juan is a cacao farmer in San Jose. Juan, aged 62, and his wife Damiana brought up seven children, five of who have set up cacao farms close to their parents’ land. Juan, a cacao farmer of 30 years, has been acting as a certain hub for his kids’ entrepreneurial activity revolving around cacao by passing down know-how and an example of how cacao farming can be instrumental to sustaining a family.
Juan is very diligent with maintenance of his cacao farm, which results in increasing yields. Cacao farms are literally in the middle of the jungle, as they require shade and nutrients from timber trees to keep producing cacao for many decades, making cleaning necessary every three to four months. Moreover, cleaning makes for easier access to trees and helps fight fungal diseases that spread through the pores in cacao pods.
Maya Mountain Cacao’s buying day in San Jose is Sunday. The sight of the long trail leading to the road from their farms, when Juan and his sons descend from their farms with full buckets of wet cacao, is nothing short of extraordinary. “I depend on cacao, it gives me some income – not much, but it helps,” he told Maya Mountain Cacao. In the future, Juan hopes to plant more trees in his own farm to have more income for his wife and himself. Like many farmers in San Jose, Juan is bilingual and speaks Mopan Maya as well as English.
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.