Sweet Success for Belizean Cocoa Industry

cocoa bean produced in Belize

IDB and TCGA sign agreement to support cacao farmers in southern Belize


The agreement between the Inter-American Development Bank and the Toledo Cacao Growers Association, signed in Belize City this week, is for a contribution of almost US$750,000 from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) a member of the IDB Group, to support cocoa production in Toledo.

The project will significantly boost exports of organic cocoa from Belize by connecting small farmers in rural Mayan communities to global supply chains.  The project will work with the TCGA to expand economic opportunities for cacao growing communities in rural Belize by providing farmers with technical assistance to strengthen their production of cacao, using organic and sustainable methods; increase the use of harvesting and processing methodologies that ensure the cocoa meets flavor and quality standards; and strengthen the TGCA’s business management capacity, including implementation of a geographic information system for forecasting and strategic planning. The project will also promote the parallel cultivation of other high value organic crops, such as spices and peppers, to supplement farmers’ incomes.  The project will develop multimedia training kits in the Kek’chi and Mopan Maya languages, and produce documentaries and case studies on the sector.

Some 1,100 small farmers and their families are expected to benefit from increased income levels as a result of productivity and quality improvements. Over the next three to five years, the TCGA and its members are expected to double the volume of their cacao exports into high value markets, from 45 tons to 90 tons per year.  The area of land certified as organic and fair trade will increase by 30%. The project also seeks to expand the participation of women and youth in cocoa production, through training in bean fermentation, and financial literacy.

The project will provide vital assistance to smallholder farmers to enable them to competitively and sustainably participate in the world market for organic cocoa. In the isolated agrarian communities of Toledo where organic cacao cultivation is an environmentally friendly form of economic development, this provides much needed income to rural Mayan families.

In addition to the MIF grant, the project will also receive funding from Kraft Foods and the TCGA, bringing total project finance to just over US$1 million.  The participation of Kraft Foods UK’s Sustainable Supply Chain Division in this project will provide opportunities for farmers to participate in supply chains with significant potential for scaling and expansion. The TCGA has an existing relationship with Kraft Foods’ premium Green and Black’s organic chocolate brand.

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