The Toledo District will benefit from significant a significant economic investment which will create educational and job opportunities for its residents. The investment will come through the construction of the Maya House of Cacao and Chocolate Museum for which the groundbreaking ceremony took place on Friday, April 25, 2013 at the San Antonio Highway.
The project is being led by the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) which has received a grant of €500,000 or BZ$1,250,000 through the Belize Rural Development Project II, funded by the European Union and the Government of Belize. The European Union will contribute BZ$1,000, 000 to the project which aims to reduce poverty in the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts. This will be achieved through increasing employment, and household income opportunities by further developing the cacao industry through agro processing and eco-tourism opportunities.
A key activity of the project is the construction and design of the Maya House of Cacao. The Maya House of Cacao will be an educational and cultural resource center which will educate local students, tourists and Belizeans. This facility will provide a venue for marketing locally made cacao products to visitors to the southern districts.
Other activities under this grant include farm management training, cacao field rehabilitation, business basics and entrepreneurship training, and value-added processing training. This project has allowed farmers to learn improved farm management practices and TCGA has already seen the improvement of plants and increase in cacao production.
The groundbreaking ceremony included representatives from the TCGA staff and farmers, the European Union, National Authorizing Office, Area Representative of the Toledo West Constituency, and the media.