Maya Mountain Cacao connects 330 small-producer cacao farmers in southern Belize to the fine chocolate industry in the United States. The farmers we work with are primarily indigenous Maya who are at or below the poverty line. Agriculture is their main source of income, and cacao is the main cash crop in this area. In Belize, the delicious chocolate industry is enabling farmers to support their families' health, children's education, and lives.
Over the past few years, demand for Belizean cacao has grown wildly. To put it in perspective, Maya Mountain Cacao currently supplies 6 chocolate makers, with over 70 on our wait list. We've invested heavily in expanding the national production so we can bring farmers as much value as possible. And now it's time to take the next step: we're partnering with the community and local leadership to build a productive, world-class cacao Demonstration Farm!
This farm will bring enormous social, environmental, economic and educational benefit to Belizean farmer families.
- Environmental Conservation: This pristine jungle plot was previously at risk of slash and burn farming. Our farming methods will conserve the diverse canopy by using agroforestry principles. We'll preserve and plant timber trees, like mahogany and cedar, for shade. We'll also create a dynamic ecosystem by planting plantains, bananas, wild plum, allspice, black pepper and avocado.
Economic Benefit: The farm will represent a consider added source of cocoa production (50% increase over currently annual country-wide production), creating jobs for Belizeans and developing local industry growth.
Educational Opportunity: The Farm will serve as an educational tool for local and international farmers and cocoa industry folk, as a means to demonstrate the ways in which both business and conservation principles should drive farm planning. This practical education will enable a new generation of cacao growers to approach farming with an environmentally responsible, commercial attitude.
We've already brought the community together and assembled the strongest team of local farmers, cacao science experts, and fine chocolate makers. Now we need the funds to make it all happen.
With $40,000 we'll be able to plant 120 acres of cacao agroforestry -- complete with timber trees for shade, and diverse intercrops. We'll use the funds to set up nurseries, pay the salaries for our hardworking farmers, and to do agricultural, compost, and maintenance trainings.
Once the farm is in blossom and producing cacao, it will not only double Maya Mountain Cacao's current volume but will also be fully financially sustainable and a source of ongoing employment and economic opportunity for rural Belizean Maya communities.
Risks and challenges
As in any agricultural endeavor, the success of the farm is subject to risk from natural disasters (hurricanes, tornados, windstorms, drought) and pests.
We will overcome these challenges by using planting techniques -- like wind-blocks and planting along the land's natural curves -- that will prevent damage to the farm in case of natural disasters. We will also use Good Agricultural Practices to prevent pests and disease from taking hold on the farm.
Additionally, because of the land tenure issue in Belize (there is currently a court case pending at the Belize Supreme Court regarding indigenous peoples right to communal ownership of land), all land leases and documents in indigenous communities could potentially be at risk until the court case is settled. To proactively address this issue, MMC is working directly with indigenous Maya community members who have leased the land for the last 25 years, ensuring that the community is invested in the farm. To be clear, MMC will not own this land; MMC is leasing the land for 20 years from local Maya families. At the end of the 20 year term the farm and all of its trees and produce will belong to these families.
MMC's investment in the Demo Farm represents one of the few sources of direct investment in indigenous Maya communities; the goodwill to be generated by this project is likely to prevent any political or social issues from blocking progress on the farm.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)