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Agroforestry Kickstarter Campaign

Indigenous Innovation: Revolutionizing Cacao in Belize

Author: Jim/Saturday, October 18, 2014/Categories: Chocolate Stuff

Maya Mountain Cacao connects 330 small-producer cacao farmers in southern Belize to the fine chocolate industry in the United States. The farmers they 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.

Click here to see their Kickstarter page and a cool video.

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. 


 

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