Florentino, his wife Eustachia and their seven boys live in the village of Red Bank, Stann Creek district of Belize. Their oldest – 21 year old – has graduated college and is employed in town, while their youngest is now just four years old. Five of the boys are currently enrolled in school, meaning they’re mostly unable to help out on the farm, and Eustachia is more than busy taking care of the very masculine household.
Florentino has been farming around 3,000 cacao trees dispersed over five acres of lush tropical lowlands for seven years now. Taught to plant cacao by his father, he maintained his interest throughout school and started soon after graduating. The land in this area is very good, says Florentino, who also grows his fresh veggies, peanuts, corn and beans all organic. Besides farming, the family also runs a bed and breakfast. Red Bank is renowned for spotting Scarlet Macaws, who forage there in the winter months to feed off the annatto fruit abundant in this area.
The family is requesting this loan in order to hire help with harvesting, cleaning, and pruning mature trees. Harvesting will require help of four people once a week during the productive season, while cleaning and pruning will require around 9 people for 14 days.
Florentino is a visionary community leader, who is invested in the wellbeing of his village. He wants to grow his farm and business, so that “everybody can benefit in my village,” he says. With little government intervention, Red Bank farms have no road access, an issue Florentino is trying to address on the community-level. Also, concerned with opportunities for the younger generation, who lacks alternatives for meaningful pastime, Florentino has funded and wants to continue efforts to expand afterschool activities. The family wants to provide their boys with a good education “so one day they can help one another,” Florentino told Maya Mountain Cacao.
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.