Cifriano, age 64, and his wife Eusebia-Leona have brought up seven children, the youngest of who is already 20. One of his sons, Santiago, built a house next door and also started a cacao farm and is requesting a loan through Kiva. Cifriano has been farming cacao for five years and currently maintains 1,000 trees planted in three acres of lush tropical forest.
Cifriano and his family live in the family of San Jose – Toledo’s cacao village extraordinaire. Most of the farmers here grow cacao for their main source of income. Farmers’ wives help out at harvest time, with fermentation and drying, and many also do crafts. Eusebia-Leona prepares materials for other jippi jappa palm weavers who then make the crafts for sale in town or nearby tourist-frequented Mayan ruins that abound in Toledo.
The family is ready to invest in building a good house, so that their children can be better off than they were, Cifriano told Maya Mountain Cacao. His favorite part about cacao is the guaranteed market. A challenge, however, is maintaining it cleaned and pruned, says Cifriano. He is therefore requesting this loan to hire 10-15 people who could do the cleaning, pruning and planting in one day instead of him doing the work alone and over a long period of time.
Cleaning means cutting the underbrush to clear access to trees for pruning and harvest or prepare the soil for transplanting new cacao seedlings. Transplanting means planting into the ground cacao seedlings that are typically raised in special bags for at least six months prior.
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.