Gabino, his wife Antonia and six children live in the village of San Jose. Four of the kids are currently in school and one is being home-schooled. Gabino feels it’s important to invest in education, but also hopes his kids choose to continue the cacao growing tradition that has run in the family for two generations. “I remember when I was eight or nine, my dad grew cacao in the community across the river. I wanted to move and become a farmer like him,” Gabino tells Maya Mountain Cacao. Besides his native Maya Mopan, Gabino is also fluent in English.
His favorite part about cacao farming is working in the shade of the trees. Cacao farming is not easy, he confesses, adding that it is what helps his family get by. Besides cacao, the family gets modest income from selling corn, beans, fresh veggies and peanuts in the local market. Gabino says the family will continue farming cacao, and they have reason to be proud of their product.
Gabino’s enthusiasm for cacao farming is contagious, he told us, as he recently got his brother to start and enjoy farming alongside his town job. Gabino is requesting this loan to hire two people for two weeks to help him clean and prune his 600 bearing cacao trees and clear access to the 500 trees newly planted in June. Besides the benefit of clearing access to the cacao trees, cutting the underbrush has the side benefit of producing firewood that can be used for the daily cooking activities. Pruning is an important investment for cacao farmers as it is said to increase yields in the coming season and extend the lifetime of cacao trees.
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.