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Ministry of Investment CEO Narda Garcia leads team in Toledo Maya heartland tour looking at Maya bags, Mahogany Chocolate, Toledo Cacao

Posted: Tuesday, September 6, 2022. 2:34 pm CST.

Photo Credit: GOB Press Office

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Chief Executive Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister and Investment Narda Garcia went looking for Maya Bags, Mahogany Chocolate, and Toledo Cacao in Maya heartland and she found that the industries, like Belize @41, are on the rebound.

Prior to these enterprises, Garcia had led the Ministry’s team, including representatives from the Investment Policy and Compliance Unit to three agro-processing facilities in southern Belize, namely TexBel Processors Limited, BelEuro Aquaculture, Copal Tree Distillery in Southern Belize.

In the Maya heartland, they visited Belize Crafts Limited and the Mahogany Chocolate Factory in Punta Gorda and the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) in Mafredi.

According to the Government of Belize Press Office, on Saturday, September 3, 2022, the first stop was Belize Crafts Limited, better known as Maya Bags.

“Belize Crafts Limited produces handmade, design-driven accessories such as women’s bags and other fashion items crafted by Maya women artisans,” said the GOB Press Office press release.

“The company works with 90 women from eight villages in the Toledo District. It targets tourism centers in Belize and upscale markets in the USA. However, COVID-19 has created some challenges to its market base, so the company is making strategic decisions to return to pre-pandemic sales levels.”

The Investment Ministry said it would help find ways to support the company’s growth and sustainability.

Next stop had Garcia and the Investment Team trying out exotic samples at the Mahogany Chocolate Factory in Punta Gorda. The Mahogany Chocolate Factory produces artisan chocolate bars, chocolate powder for drinks and cooking, plus gift items for the local market, particularly tourism centers.

The press release said the Mahogany Chocolate Factory has 300 acres of cacao. Half of its products are exported as cacao bean exports and the other half as value-added products. The company plans to export these value-added products to Panama.

After seeing the finished product, the Investment Team went to check out the raw product at the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) at the Maya House of Cacao in Mafredi. The TCGA is on the upswing. Consisting of more than 400 members including 26 women farmers, they already collectively export organic cacao nibs to the United States, Japan, Germany, and other European countries. Though not without challenges, the TCGA told CEO Garcia and her team that they plan to double the size of their operations which will allow them to expand into value-added organic cacao products.


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