Eusebio, his wife Teresa and their nine children live in the village of San Jose. Eusebio, a cacao farmer of six years, likes the crop because it currently has a market. “My favorite part is because I got my children in high school,” he told Maya Mountain Cacao. In Belize, High School is not mandatory, and carries a tuition cost of 400 Belize Dollars (USD 200).
The family hopes to put their put through school so they have access to the qualified job market. “I don’t know if I want them to farm, because it’s hard work. Better they study,” says Eusebio. Besides his native Maya Mopan, Eusebio also speaks Q'eqchi' and English.
Eusebio currently farms two acres planted with 700 cacao trees. He is requesting this loan to clean and prune his productive cacao. Cleaning means cutting the underbrush to clear access to trees for pruning, harvest or planting. It is a routine activity for farmers living in the lush tropical lowlands and needs to be done three to four times per year. To help with the task, Eusebio will hire 10-12 people to clean and prune his farm. Pruning is cutting the non-productive branches and is necessary to increase yields and prolong the lifetime of a cacao tree.
In the near future, Eusebio hopes to expand his farm by one more acre. He is currently waiting for his young cacao trees to grow before transplanting new ones, as they require more care and attention. Besides cacao, the family grows corn, beans, rice and fruit trees. For income, they depend on the cacao and sell pumpkin seeds in neighboring Guatemala. The hardest thing about farming for Eusebio is the recurring shortage of money if one doesn’t have savings and the many rainy days during the wet season in Belize.
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.