About TCGA - Toledo Cacao Growers Association
"To improve the socio-economic standard of living of our farmers through competitive and diversified systems of production that incorporate sound ecological practices."
The Toledo Cacao Growers Association - TCGA - is a not-for-profit organization established in 1984 that seeks to improve the socioeconomic standard of its members through a diversified system of production incorporating sound ecological practices. Today more than 1,100 subsistence farmers (primarily in the Toledo and South Stann Creek Districts) are engaged in cacao production. Its members are divided into 52 communities in the Toledo, Stann Creek and Cayo Districts that produce some 50 tons of cacao beans annually.
After a period of relative inactivity, TCGA signed its first big contract and Green & Black's noted this with great interest, simultaneously contracting with Whole Earth Food Ltd (now Green & Black's) in recognizing the potential to produce quality cacao beans in 1993 and exported its first cacao beans to the United Kingdom (from well flavored Trinitario beans) for the Maya Gold. TCGA in 2003 it started working on a new project for organic certification by Soil Association and "Fairtrade by assisting TCGA farmers. This recognition of interest and quality made the TCGA a pioneer in the Fairtrade business model in Belize and promoted the new " Maya Gold Project" in Central America.
TCGA later renewed its contract to a 5 year whose aim is to create a sustainable association by increasing rolling contract making the sole contract to benefit the farmer its members and acreage thereby increasing its production. The Project financed by Green & Black's, DFID (Department for International Development) and HIVOS (Dutch support Maya Gold organization), commenced in September 2003.
Since then its acreage grew from 400 to 3000 acres. The Maya Gold Project productivity has been increasing as a result of additional input designed for the farmers' benefit by more efficient farming methods, and providing technical training and extension services to well established farms.
The evolution of moderate expectations presented itself. Despite a very successful Maya Gold Project, the only measuring after 2007 and by virtue four (4) local chocolate processors indicator, increase in production, can only be realized in the 5th year (Kakaw, Goss, Cotton Tree and Cirila's Chocolate) are now of tree life. TCGA farmers are now cultivating a local hybrid "Trinitario" which is a cross of "Forastero" the rustic variety and "Criollo" the most aromatic of the existing varieties of cacao. Farmers cultivate on average 2 acres with planting space of 12' x 12' intercropped with timber and leguminous trees at maturity and plantains and other staples during growth stage..
Existing Belize cacao farmers earn Bz $2.30 per lb. of cacao beans in addition to .14 cents for their Fair trades skills to cultivate, ferment and dry cacao beans as demanded by Premium Fund and .18 cents for their organic certification the market. TCGA has undertaken several infrastructure projects as mandated by Fairtrade. The price is higher than the FT minimum guarantee of Bz $1.76 but lower than the current world market price of 2.90 (NYSE). TCGA's price however is complimented by a new bargaining deal TCGA entered into with Green & Black's in 2007 to benefit from the International Cocoa Organization's (ICCO) daily price adjustment.
With a fully functional extension department, TCGA provides organic inspections, technical training (cacao production - from seed sowing to post harvest methodologies), quality control, pruning services, organic and agriculture education, farm consultations, and other extension support services for existing and new farmers. TCGA ensures that farmers have the adequate skills to cultivate, ferment and dry cacao beans as demanded by the market. TCGA has undertaken several infrastructure projects over the last 5 years to build satellite buying centers (Maya Mopan, San Antonio Village) and drying facilities in San Jose in order to provide quality beans to its customers.
Approximately 90% of TCGA's production is exported and 10% is retained for local processors. In accordance with its business plan, the percentage will be reconsidered as the current trend for local processing increases. The result of reducing export in favor of the local market is that TCGA production is 90% short of Green & Black's demand for the more than 450 tons of organic cacao annually, a significant gap and incentive for TCGA to increase production and enjoy a thriving market.