Felipe and his wife Emiliana brought up 11 children, aged 14 to 37, all of whom live in the village of San Jose surrounded by the Maya mountains. The kids all took after the father to become farmers, and two of them also grow cacao encouraged by the growing market.
Felipe got into cacao farming by buying an acre of already productive trees. Having gotten a taste for it, he is now planning to expand by planting 1,000 new plants. Instead of buying seedlings – transplant-ready cacao grown in bags for at least six months – Felipe will have an on-farm nursery where he will grow his own seedlings. The principal reason for the expansion is to support his children who can eventually take over.
His favorite part about cacao farming is seeing the trees covered in pods and the time when everybody gets together for harvest. The less exciting side to cacao is cleaning and maintenance, says Felipe, as it keeps farmers in the fields and working hard. Besides cacao, Felipe also grows corn and beans, which he sells locally.
Felipe is requesting this loan to hire help to set up the nursery as well as clean and prune his productive cacao trees. Cleaning means cutting the underbrush to clear access to trees for pruning and harvest or prepare the soil for transplanting new cacao seedlings. Pruning is the process of cutting the non-productive branches and is necessary to increase yields and prolong the lifetime of a cacao tree. The job will require as many as 30 people working for 10 days.
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.