Heraldo, age 19, is a young farmer who lives in the beautiful village of Laguna, a few miles off the Southern highway. The village is named Laguna because it houses a lagoon with various species of birds. He is currently living with his parents along with his older brother and younger sister. His dad recently passed his cacao farm onto Heraldo to instead focus on his annatto and ginger farm.
Besides his cacao farm, Heraldo also grows other crops like bananas, plantains, coconuts, corn and other ground foods for home use. “I like to drink a glass of cacao before going to the farm so that I can have energy to work,” says Heraldo. He likes cacao farming because there is a good market for it. To protect his cacao and practice the sport, Heraldo goes out hunting cacao-eating animals. His favorite part of cacao farming is pruning, because he knows it’s an investment to make his trees more productive in the upcoming season.
Heraldo, who farms six acres, has a passion for cacao and spends most of his time on his farm on small tasks like removing suckers and infected pods. When referring to suckers, farmers mean excess branches on their cacao, which “suck” the plant’s energy away from the fruit pods to the branches. At harvesting time the entire family pitches in to get the job done faster. Heraldo owns a horse and uses it to bring the wet beans home during peak season – March through May.
Heraldo is requesting a loan to hire people in the community to help him clean and prune his cacao farm and establish a nursery for his first expansion. Cleaning is the process of chopping the entire overgrown bush around the farm to improve air circulation through the plants. Pruning is the process of removing of nonproductive branches from the trees and is performed to improve yields. Heraldo will establish a nursery so that he can have a centralized location to bag soil and expand his cacao farm with high yielding varieties.
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.