Simeon and his wife Dangrica care for five children, four of who are in school. The family lives in the village of Na’ Luum Ca’, in the foot of the Maya Mountains, and manages a three-acre cacao farm. When they’re not busy with school, the kids are instrumental with harvesting and clearing fresh underbrush in the farm.
Besides farming, Simeon is also enlisted in the Belize Defense Force. Dangrica and the older children take over farm maintenance during Simeon’s workdays. Besides cacao, the family grows beans, plantain, ginger, coconut and corn. In the coming few years, they plan to expand the cacao field and possibly start getting into fresh vegetables. Simeon is looking forward to retiring from the BDF to be able to stay full-time on his farm with the family and away from Belize’s dangerous urban and border areas.
Simeon and Dangrica hope to provide their children with an education. “Priority is education. I will encourage and fully support them,” says Simeon, adding that if his kids choose farming, he will prepare them for success in this trade.
Simeon is requesting this loan to hire help for cleaning and pruning his three-acre cacao farm, as well as harvesting kuhun trees, which are producing too much shade. The task at hand will require and create over 200 hours of labor in the community. Cleaning means cutting underbrush to clear access to trees for pruning and harvest, or to prepare soil for planting. It is a routine activity for farmers working in the lush tropical lowlands, and needs to be repeated three to four times a year. Pruning means cutting excess branches to increase yields in the coming season and keep trees from intertwining with one another and growing too tall and unwieldy. The harvested kuhun trees will be useful in the household because of the delicious kahun cabbage – heart of the kahun palm, that can be used as a meat substitute.
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.