Pablo is a Mayan farmer from the village of San Jose, in Belize’s southernmost Toledo district. After two successive expansions, Pablo now farms around 1,000 cacao trees spread out over four acres of lowlands. His wife Victoriana and four live-in children are of major help at harvest time, as the family tends to work their own cacao instead of hiring outside help. Pablo’s family members are multilingual and speak both their native Maya Mopan as well as English.
Farming was something Pablo was born into and embraced out of the need to support his family. He is happy to be able to offer his children the option of a high school education, which in Belize is both optional and comes at a high cost. Two of Victoriana and Pablo’s children are currently in school, and one has opted to follow in Pablo’s footsteps and work the land for a living.
Besides cacao, Pablo grows the traditional crops of beans, rice and corn, but is also experimenting with multi-cropping by planting fruit trees among his cacao and timber trees that provide the necessary shade and nutrients for both.
As most of the family’s income comes from cacao, their wellbeing rests on continuous efforts to maintain and grow yields. Pablo is requesting this loan to set up an individual nursery of 500 seedlings that will be transplanted in six months’ time to expand his farm. In order to increase yields and shorten the period before the new trees become productive, Pablo will use grafting. So-called side-grafting means implanting a bud into the trunk of more mature seedling, a technique that requires utmost precision and on average results in around 75 percent success rate.
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.