Firmo, his wife Veronica and their eight children – aged two to 17 – live in the village of Pueblo Viejo. The family’s income comes mainly from cacao, rice and beans sold at the local PG market as well as Firmo’s maintenance job.
A cacao farmer of five years, Firmo currently farms 2.5 acres with 500 sparsely planted cacao trees. He is requesting this loan to transplant 175 trees and clean his productive plants. Cleaning is a routine activity for cacao farmers working the land in the lush tropical lowlands. The money will be used to pay for around 170 hours of labor by fellow farmers and Pueblo Viejo villagers.
Firmo enjoys cacao, because he sees the benefit it brings his family. Six of the kids are currently in school. “I’ll try my best to send them to school. I can do the farming, they can go,” he told Maya Mountain Cacao. If everything goes well in the farm, in the near future Firmo hopes to invest in a solar panel. Pueblo Viejo is outside the grid, making it difficult for kids to do their studying beyond daylight hours.
For Firmo, the biggest challenge with cacao farming is the birds. “I try to arrive before they do, but they come sooner,” he says. Pueblo Viejo is surrounded by mountains, and Firmo, like many of his counterparts, has to climb a steep hill to get to his farm. Living close to the Guatemalan border, Firmo speaks some Spanish, his native Maya Mopan language, Q'eqchi' and English.
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.