Honorato his wife Macrina and their five children live in the village of San Jose, in the Maya Mountains. A farmer from an early age, Honorato says farming is no joke, and wants to provide his children an education to help them get a head start.
Honorato got into farming cacao five years ago encouraged by other farmers and by the promise of a stable and guaranteed market for the crop. He is now farming two acres – around 600 cacao trees. Honorato says cacao is a good crop because it’s long term: “you don’t have to replant it, just clean, prune and take good care.” The tricky part of cacao farming for Honorato has been the fungal pod rot disease Monilia, and the trees that go straight up without producing. “We call them suckers, because they suck the top of the soil without giving anything back,” he professed.
His favorite thing about cacao is the moment after the trees are cleaned and pruned. “Then I really appreciate my field. Trees are looking nice and sailing with the breeze,” Honorato says with a smile, adding that harvest is also a fun time.
With children between the ages of four and 17, and possibly one more in the planning, there are school fees to worry about. However, kids are indispensable assistants to help out at harvest. Macrina also helps with harvest, but also fermenting and drying as well as shelling and grinding cacao for the hot cacao drink that is omnipresent in Mayan homes. Honorato is asking for the loan to expand his farm by buying and transplanting 600 seedlings as well as cleaning two acres of cacao. Transplanting means planting seedlings raised in bags for at least six months into freshly cleaned soil. Cleaning is the process of cutting underbrush to clear access to trees for pruning and harvest or prepare soil for planting.
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.