A signing ceremony and launch of the Mayan House of Cacao and Chocolate Museum project was held yesterday in Punta Gorda town.

Paul Mahung reporting...
‘During the event held at the Toledo Sports Complex the opening prayer was said by Benito Teck of San Pedro Columbia and welcome remarks by Toledo Cacoa Growers Association TCGA former Chairman Justino Peck of San Jose Village. The main address was given by Toledo Cacoa Growers Association Chairman Alvaro Pop of San Antonio Village who spoke of the project also referred to as the TCGA Action.

Alvaro Pop – Chairman, Toledo Cacao Growers Association
“The TCGA Action is estimated to cost 500 Euros or equivalent to BZ$1.2 million with the EU contributing 400 Euros which is 80% of the total cost of the action. Under this grant contract the TCGA will further one of the objectives of the BRDP 2 to contribute to poverty reduction through an increase in employment and household income opportunities. Under this grant contract the TCGA will establish a working cacao museum, rehabilitate some 200 acres cacao land owned by 100 small farmers, provide business education for 20 women, 20 men and 10 youths from Toledo, 25 youths trained in cacao field practices and 50 women trained in the making of cacao products, improvement in production of cacao and encouragement of further value added effort in cacao as seen as central in expanding earning opportunities in the rural communities of Toledo.”

Other speakers included Deputy National Authorizing Officer Katherine Mendez who deputized for Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Economic Development and National Authorizing Officer Ambassador Yvonne Hyde and Head of European Union Technical Support in Belize- Cosimo Lamberti Fossatti. A slide presentation on the Financing Agreement between the European Union and Belize and the Belize Rural Development Project Phase 2 was done by lead expert and Technical Assistant Doctor John Ferguson. The official signing of documents marking the launching of the Mayan House of Cacao and Chocolate Museum Project entitled the TCGA Action was done jointly by Deputy National Authorizing Officer Katherine Mendez and Toledo Cacao Growers Association Chairman Alvaro Pop. Closing remarks were done by TCGA Finance Officer Pedro Witz. The ceremony was attended by 135 Cacao farmers from Toledo and Southern Stann Creek Districts, TCGA Executives and Staff as well representatives of the Belize Rural Development Project, the Caribbean Fine Cacao Forum from Jamaica and International Partners Initiative from Turks and Caicos Islands.