Clarence, age 43, is currently living in Punta Gorda town, where he owns and runs a small jewelry shop. He and his wife Monica have brought up four children, all of who are enrolled in school at the moment. Apart from his jewelry shop, he is also involved in cacao farming. He is managing eight acres of cacao that he planted five years ago and that are now beginning to produce pods. He got into cacao because he was looking for a crop to plant on his land, and was interested in the stable market and good prices for cacao.
Clarence is really excited about cacao because his trees are producing for the first time and he is confident that as the years go by his production will increase. Besides cacao, he also plants various fruit trees on his farm. His wife Monica stays home to take care of the three kids and his oldest son goes out with him on the farm on the weekends.
According to Clarence, his favorite part of cacao farming is the harvesting process because all of the hard work is done at that point and it’s just a matter of walking and picking the ripe pods. The challenging part for him is the cleaning because it requires a significant amount of time and his jewelry shop keeps him busy.
Clarence is requesting the loan to hire people from Big Falls to clean his farm and also to plant 4,000 more cacao trees as an investment in his family's future. Cleaning is the process of removing the underbrush in the cacao farm to clear access for harvesting and pruning. Cacao grows in agroforestry systems on lush jungle soil that gets plenty of rain in the wet season and sun in the dry season, resulting in fast-paced growth. Farmers typically have to clean their cacao fields three times a year. Planting is the process of transplanting seedlings grown in bags for six months into the ground and requires precision in spacing among other things.
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.