Marcus, age 33, is an organic cacao farmer that lives in the beautiful village of Medina Bank, Toledo District. Medina Bank is located along Belize’s Southern Highway, just past the river of Golden stream. Marcus lives with his wife and their four children, age one to six.
Marcus was inspired to start growing organic cacao by a local conservation trust that manages protected areas in the southern part of the country. He manages a cacao farm of two and half acres and about 1000 productive trees. Marcus notes that he does face certain challenges like pests – local leafcutter ants, birds, agouti – and diseases like black pod and monilia. Despite the difficulties Marcus is enthusiastic about slowly growing his cacao production.
As the sole bread winner of his home, Marcus works part time jobs, cultivating and selling other crops such has beans, corn, plantain and fresh vegetables, leaving little time for the management of his cacao farm. This Kiva loan will allow Marcus to hire the much-needed help to clean his farm and get it ready for transplanting new seedlings. Cacao farms in Belize are literally in the middle of the jungle, and require cleaning about three times a year. Cleaning is the process of removing underbrush to clear access to trees or prepare a plot for planting.
Marcos’ wife Luisa enjoys helping with harvesting and selling quality organic cacao to the buyers. The family puts a lot of importance on their children’s education to ensure they have options when it comes time to stand on their own and provide for their own families.
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.