Casamiro, age 45, lives in the village of San Jose, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. He and his wife Jacinta have brought up ten children, eight of which are living in and two are currently in high school. Casamiro’s wife and kids help out on the farm, especially at harvest time.
Casamiro has been involved in cacao for seven years now and was encouraged to plant by a local NGO in southern Belize. For Casamiro cacao farming is good because it helps him take care of his family. “Good. It’s good because I sell the fruit, it helps me,” he told Maya Mountain Cacao in perfect English, his second language after Maya Mopan. Apart from cacao, the family also plants coffee, ginger, beans, corn, rice and vegetables for home use.
The favorite part of cacao for Casamiro is pruning. Prunning is the removal of the nonproductive branches and results in increased yields for the next year’s crop by letting the tree focus on producing pods that grow directly on the trunk. The more challenging part for Casamiro is cleaning, because a farmer cannot finish it on their own and have to hire outside help.
The family is requesting this loan to clean their two acres of cacao farm and to establish a nursery for a planned cacao farm expansion. Cleaning is the removal of underbrush to facilitate airflow and keep trees accessible for pruning and harvesting. The family will establish a nursery where they will have the young cacao seedling grow until it’s ready for transplanting. Seedlings are typically strong enough for transplantation when they have four leaves, and take about six months to grow to that stage. The tasks at hand will require and create the equivalent of 18 days of labor in the community.
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.