Epiphanio and his wife Romelia have four children, all of whom are currently in school. Everybody also does their bit with harvesting and the older kids are also starting to get into pruning – an activity that helps farmers bring up yields for the following harvest.
Besides farming, Epiphanio owns and drives a school bus that transports countless kids from the village of San Jose to a high school in Toledo’s biggest town of Punta Gorda. Cacao is a good option for the family because it has a stable market, and the farm is close enough to the house that the kids can help out when they’re not busy with school and Epiphanio is out with the bus. His biggest challenge with cacao are the birds. “They like the cacao. There’s nothing I can do, so I just leave it for them,” he confesses. Epiphanio’s favorite thing about cacao farming is choosing the ripest pods for harvest.
His vision for the future is building a nice home and perhaps starting a little business – a local convenience store. “Once you start getting a little bit of money, then you start saving, and maybe start a business,” he says. Epiphanio is requesting the loan to plant 800 trees, doubling his current crop. “I’m planting more four acres and want prepare and leave one farm for my son, who is now four years old,” he told Maya Mountain Cacao. Cacao trees take about five years to become productive and continue yielding for decades (sometimes ten!) thereafter.
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.