From reading our regular newsletters you will have heard us mention Trevor Miles on numerous occasions. Those of you who attended our inaugural cacao tour back in May got to spend time with him and his family.
As President of the Belize Cacao Consortium (BCC), a native Belizean, well-respected and well-known local business man, Trevor really is “the face” of BCC in Belize.
His knowledge and connections in the local Maya cacao community are invaluable and we are happy to begin sharing some of it with you.
Below is the first of many communications that you will receive from Trevor and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we do.
Take it away Trevor!
Famed writer and adventurist Aldous Huxley once wrote, “If the world had any ends Belize would be one of them. It is not on the way from anywhere, to anywhere else. It is all but uninhabited.”
Little did Mr. Huxley realize that the southernmost end of the world was indeed inhabited, populated by the indigenous Maya, with their hidden civilization deeply rooted in agriculture. One of the proud people’s primary and most sacred crops was cacao. It was traded throughout Central America as a form of currency and became the ultimate symbol of security and status. The more cacao a Maya farmer possessed, the better his family’s future.
Circa 2017, Belize’s Maya continue to draw from their ancestral knowledge to identify the best cacao lands, how to source the highest yielding plants and how to use the natural elements such as the sun to create some of the finest flavour cacao beans in the world. This is the very heart of the Belize Cacao Consortium (BCC) and we are thankful to walk amongst and continually learn from these people.
While visiting BCC’s extensive nursery I witnessed a Mayan gentleman sitting on a little homemade desk set amongst a sea of green saplings, all but his head and shoulders hidden by the lush green leaves. His hands were deliberate, his eyes focused and each cut was made to that of a trained surgeon ensuring the perfection of each grafted tree. He looked up for a moment and saw me standing there and immediately smiled. His face filled with amusement and with the friendly sarcasm of a skilled professional he asked, “Want to try it?” My initial response was to say yes but I regressed and said that for now I will leave it to the professionals, but when I come back I will be happy to learn.
I then moved over to BCC’s newly established cacao depot set atop a high hill to ensure full sunlight and continuous airflow. No one was expecting my visit yet everyone was busy going about their daily routines creating BCC’s line of fine flavour cacao beans. Men were raking rows and rows of mahogany coloured beans on the drying decks while others were rotating wet beans in the fermentation boxes. A small group of women were huddled together busily sorting a huge pile of properly fermented and dried beans ensuring that only the best and fattest beans will be taken to market. Everyone smiling and chatting away in their native Mayan tongue yet the work never stopped. At this moment, I understood how the great Mayan civilization was created – by the many hands of skilled and hardworking people consistently performing their duties to the best of their abilities.
My deep thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a sudden torrential downpour of rain. No hard winds or flashing lightning gave warning. I looked down into the adjacent valley of the depot property expecting to see everyone running for dry shelter. The men were still staggered at various points along the mountainside busy planting newly grown cacao saplings. No one stopped planting. No one ran for cover. I walked down into the valley and as I passed, each employee looked up from his planting task and smiled. When asked about the rain the response was, “Yes! Now it’s nice and cool and the trees love it!”
As suddenly as the rain began the sun reappeared. Water glistened off shades of green in every direction. The air now fresh and charged with life was again flowing through the valley. I know our trees will do well here. The soil, the people, the elements and the combined experience are all contributing to the success of BCC’s cacao plantations. These newly planted cacao trees will grow strong and bear much fruit and will fill BCC’s coffers with many tons of fine flavoured cacao beans.
In retrospect, maybe Mr. Aldous Huxley had it wrong. Maybe Belize is not the end of the world …but instead …. only the beginning. One with a bright future for cacao with many chapters yet to be filled.
J. Trevor Miles
President, Belize Cacao Consortium.