Pablo, age 36, and his wife Felicia have been tending to a two-acre cacao farm for ten years now. They have brought up three children, two of which are currently in school. The kids and wife help Pablo out on the farm during peak harvest season, which for cacao picks up in January to May. To harvest cacao, farmers use a hook knife or machete to cut the fruit off the trunk. Once the pod is cracked open the sweet pulp surrounding cacao beans starts fermenting and needs to be put into wooden boxes for fermentation.
Pablo was inspired to start farming cacao because of the stable market access and an attractive price. He saw it as an opportunity because cacao is a permanent crop and will start producing pods after about four years and continue for decades thereafter. Apart from cacao, the family also plants corn and beans for home use.
The favorite part of cacao farming for Pablo is harvesting because it does not require a lot of work. The challenging part, however, is cleaning because it requires a lot of time, and besides farming Pablo also works in a shrimp farm.
The family is requesting the loan to hire five men for ten days to clean their cacao farm. Cleaning is the process of clearing the underbrush in the cacao field and its surroundings to clear access for pruning, harvesting or planting alongside them. Because of ample growth in the lush tropical lowlands of Belize, cleaning is an especially strenuous activity that needs to be repeated every three months.
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.