The cocoa industry in Belize is presently constrained by low production and high fixed costs. This has resulted in minimal investment into the sector from larger stakeholders in the fine-flavor cocoa market and a dearth of long-term partnerships with cocoa producers in the country.
National production is currently estimated at 100 tonnes per-annum, which is insufficient to attract industrial chocolate makers and large-scale foreign investment to the sector. Scaling-up production requires a new emphasis on research, field testing, data collection and yield analyses that establish best practices for cultivation.
Conditions in Belize provide the ideal foundation for expanding national production of cocoa. Belize has a rich cultural history of growing cocoa and exceptional cocoa genetics. Additionally, there is a pressing need to diversify incomes while promoting new sectors of employment for women and youth. There are also widespread opportunities to remediate abandoned citrus plantations affected by Citrus Greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) disease by planting cocoa, and to reforest former slash-and-burn lands in indigenous communities by planting hardwood tree species with cocoa in agroforestry systems. With 42 % of Belize’s surface area presently designated as protected areas, cocoa agroforestry concessions are a promising new model for expanding production while preserving the country’s biodiversity.
The Institute was set up in 2018 with the mission of getting the cacao industry in Belize to scale in a sustainable manner.
The objectives for the Institute include the following
I. To support Belizean cacao farmers through cacao agroforestry farming, including increasing per-acre yields;
II. To support environmental conservation through cacao;
III. To support cacao farmers with real tried and true practices that are applicable to Belize’s unique climate;
IV. To research agroforestry strategies and provide outcomes to stakeholders in Belize Cacao Industry;
V. To research and better understand Belizean cacao varietals for environmental and yield (economical) purposes;
VI. To provide information to support the training of indigenous community members in better practices and techniques for sustainable cacao production;
VII. To partner with environmental and other Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) to conduct on-farm trainings with farmers in cacao producing communities;
VIII. To support long-term primary agronomic cacao research in Belize.
CAIB has received Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund grants to develop nurseries and experimental farm plots in Toledo district to determine best management practices for rare cocoa varieties, and provide training in nursery development and cultivation techniques. These efforts will ultimately help farmers scale up and strengthen commercial links to the fine chocolate market.
Membership is open to all cacao growers and members of the cacao industry in Belize. In addition, we are grateful for the support of non-Belizean followers of the industry who provide invaluable assistance in research, grantmaking and strategy setting which is not available in Belize.
For more information
Contact Fernando Majil, Chairman
+501 613 1133
or you can fill in the contact form below.