HCP Heirloom Cacao 7

Maya Mountain Cacao Ltd. Farmer Network: Villages of San Antonio, Santa Cruz, Santa Elena, and Pueblo Viejo, Belize

Provided by Daniel O’Doherty, Cacao Services Inc.

Designated 2015

Bursary Sponsor: Chocolate Maya

Discover Heirloom Designated Cacao Farming in Belize

Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) is a specialty cacao sourcing company that works across the Toledo, Stann Creek and Cayo districts of Belize. MMC purchases fresh cacao, ferments and dries the cacao, and exports to a variety of specialty chocolate makers in the U.S. and Europe.

In 2015, MMC farmers earned Heirloom Cacao Preservation (HCP) designation for a set of farms in the villages of San Antonio, Santa Elena, and Pueblo Viejo, in the Toledo District. The trees and farms in this designation were carefully selected and submitted by agronomist Dan O’Doherty of Cacao Services Inc.

Daniel O’Doherty moved to Hawaii in 2005 and began his work with cacao throughout the Hawaiian Islands. His work now extends internationally as a consultant to help better agricultural practices and post-harvest processing techniques, which is how he came to work closely with these Maya Mountain villages.

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Learn About the HCP Nursery Projects

In 2018, Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) was awarded an HCP grant funded by the Lesley Family Foundation.  Later that year, it was awarded a second grant by HCP to continue their preservation efforts funded by Penn State University.

The MMC Nursery Project was born out of a high demand for Belize’s unique, fine flavored bean paired with a desire to preserve heirloom cacao varieties for the future of specialty chocolate production.

The objective of this project is to identify at least 10 mother trees that are scientifically selected for desirable traits (production yield, disease resistance, etc.) certified heirloom and create a 1-acre clonal garden that will be the first heirloom certified gene bank in Belize for Belize-specific genetics. It is the long-term intention that these genetics would be dispersed in Belizean cacao farming communities to increase production of fine flavor beans.

To read the most recent program report, contact HCP Executive Director, Anne Zaczek at info@hcpcacao.org

Greg D’Alesandre is an executive of Dandelion Cacao, LLC which is an investor in Maya Mountain Cacao Ltd. and is also a member of the HCP Board of Directors. Due to the specialized sub-sector of the cacao industry that HCP is working to preserve, there may be times our board members are directly involved with our programs. Through the counsel of our lawyer HCP has put a policy in place to ensure there is no conflict of interest. 

Belizean chocolate made from Heirloom designated farms

Tasting Panel Notes

The International Tasting Panelists found the flavor of the liquor and the chocolate made from the Belize beans to be dramatic: well-balanced and smooth, yet surprisingly complex with all the flavor notes maintaining their distinctiveness but not overpowering each other.

USDA Genetic Profile for cacao beans from Belize cacao farm trees

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