Pedro, age 54, lives in the village of Santa Cruz on the Southern Highway, which connects Belize with Guatemala. Pedro and his wife Julia have been involved in cacao farming for a number of years now. He manages two acres of mature cacao trees and two acres of young trees. Pedro and Julia have brought up five children of which three are in school and two are farming cacao.
Pedro got involved in cacao production when farmers were encouraged to plant cacao by the cacao association. Julia and the children help Pedro on the farm, especially at with picking and cracking ripe pods at harvest. Besides cacao, Pedro also plants beans and corn for sale in the Guatemalan market. He also cultivates plantain and coconut for home use.
“My favorite part of cacao is picking and seeing the farm after the cleaning is done” says Pedro. The challenging part for him is dealing with the squirrels that eat the cacao seeds from ripe pods. Cacao pods typically carry 35 seeds (beans) covered in delicious sweet and juicy pulp. Pedro says that cacao farming is going good because it has been his family’s bread and butter for four years now.
The family is requesting the loan to clean the two acres of young cacao trees that were planted last year. Cleaning is the removal of underbrush in the cacao farm and is of vital importance in plots with young trees to ensure their survival. A cacao farmer working the lush tropical lowlands of Belize have to repeat cleaning as many as three times a year to keep airflow in the farm and keep the trees accessible.
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.