An experienced farmer, and relatively new to cacao, Catarino planted his first two acres in 2000. Having expanded to another plot of four acres in 2005, he now manages among the biggest farms in Maya Mountain Cacao's network. Catarino lives in the village of San Jose with his wife Isidora and two kids, with another four already living outside the home.
Farming has been Catarino’s bread and butter since the beginning of days. “Farming is my life. I have no education other than my farm,” he says proudly. His wife Isidora helps out with the farm, primarily with harvesting, fermentation and drying. Catarino is one of few farmers that prefers to manage the processing before passing it onto buyers, and sells as much as 500 lbs of dry cacao and probably double that in wet cacao yearly.
A true enthusiast of working the land, Catarino says farming is not that hard. “You have no boss, you’re your own boss.” Having no help around the farm, as his older children work in a nearby shrimp farm and youngest are still infants, Catarino is used to hiring help to manage to clean and prune his cacao farm. Pruning and cleaning is a key investment when it comes to cacao, as it eases access to the trees for harvesting, prevents spread of mold infestation and increases yields in the coming harvest season. As many farmers in San Jose, Catarino speaks his native Maya Mopan as well as English.
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.