Producer Profiles

TCGA - Toledo Cacao Growers Association

The Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) was born out of a 1986 USAID development project that provided hybrid cacao plants to the southern Belizean Ke'kchi and Mopan Mayan growers and fostered sales to Hershey Foods. The farmers traditionally grew cacao to prepare a spicy drink primarily used in religious ceremonies. The partnership was successful until cocoa market prices plummeted and harvesting became entirely unprofitable for farmers.

Today, TCGA stands on its own as a nonprofit business association in the most impoverished and underdeveloped jungle communities of Belize. Luckily for chocolate connoisseurs, the estimated 750 cacao farmers have returned to cultivate their native “Criollo” plant, the highest quality cocoa beans native to Central America. TCGA's 100 percent organic, shade-grown and composting practices demonstrate their strong commitment to sustainable agriculture and complement their commitment to quality. In 1997, TCGA became the first cocoa cooperative to become Fair Trade Certified™.


Because I knew Fair Trade would pay a better price for my cacao beans, I planted more trees. More trees mean more beans, and more beans mean more money. I have two daughters in school and the new trees I planted four years ago are already bearing enough to pay their school fees.  

Ignacio Ash, Toledo Cacao Growers Member


School Books and a New Drying Facility

The association elected to invest a portion of their Fair Trade premium in a fund for school supplies. They also purchased new drying facilities to improve product quality.