REPORT #309 June 2000
THE REMOTE MAYAN VILLAGES OF THE TOLEDO DISTRICT ARE SITTING ON A SMALL PRODUCING GOLDMINE, CALLED MILPA RECYCLING!


Produced by the Belize Development Trust

By Ray Auxillou Belize Development Trust

Can the Government officials in Belmopan, or those port town Creole Politician "leaders" organize the certification and issuing of carbon sequestering bonds, for the Mayan Hill Toledo communities?

There are numerous Mayan organizations already among the 15,000 estimated people in scattered farms and villages across the District of Toledo high rain forest jungle hills. What they lack is some bureaucratic technical knowledge and skills to deal with the outside world. It would be a good marriage and development issue for the Belize National Government, a Toledo District Government and the various Mayan village organizations to organize and represent the bureaucratic paper work process, in getting together a working carbon sequestering program of BOND sales in world markets, notably the Chicago Exchange; so individual farmers would have a cash flow income ( on which they would have to pay INCOME TAX) in return for the milpa that is being re-generated into new jungle cover.

A Mayan family group, usually three generations, recycles about 9 acres every three years, of jungle. The 9 acre plots lie fallow for about 30 years, but are eligible for the recycling fallow period to earn money from Carbon Sequestering Bonds. The carbon sequesting Emission Swapping Oxygen Trading Rights are effective for new forest growth since 1990 according to the Kyoto Protocol which covers these things.

The roughly 15,000 population of the Mayan Hills of the Toledo District, represent about 5000 farmers doing MILPA. Since 1990, that would make, 9 acres per family every three years, or 5000 milpero families times 27 acres each already eligible for sale in Carbon Sequestering-Oxygen Rights BONDS. Or a total of new fallow jungle growth eligible for carbon sequestering BONDs issuance and CERTIFICATION by a Belize Government Bond Issuing Carbon Sequestering Program of 135,000 acres of BOND acreage that would bring income to the Mayan Hills farmers.

Current carbon bond prices on the open market are selling for $100 USA per acre for a crop of beans and $385 a ton of wood for new forest. Consider, that Milpa farmers with acreage being worked in beans could also earn $100 USA per acre, or $900 USA, or $1800 Bz per year while they grow beans as a by-product, that is pretty good. New fallow milpa going into new jungle wouldn't have much tonnage, but each year, the tonnage would rise for the next 30 years. So the income would be growing steadily. ( See Report # 259 of the Belize Development Trust, at: http://AmbergrisCaye.com/BzLibrary)

Already there is an estimated 135,000 acres of new jungle eligible, if this program is organized to favor the MILPA farmers. $13,500,000 USA value today in Belize going to waste at $100 per acre and with an estimated value of $175 an acre in wood tonnage the recycled fallow jungle from milpa farmers is now worth an estimated 135,000 acres times $175 = $23, 625,000, or $23 million income PER YEAR, to the 15,000 people farming by milpa of the Toledo Hills high rain forest.

While the above estimates are only approximate, they do represent untapped financial resources of foreign exchange and a new income source for impoverished uneducated rural subsistance farming families. The scope of this program idea is much wider than just the Toledo Hills, but it is a good place to start with a focus.

Lacking is initiative and leadership by that bunch of port town CREOLES who went to St. Johns College up in the far away port of Belize City, up north. They have the skills to do the Internet Research, the writing of papers, organizing certifications and Bonds, Milpa Farmer Association bank accounts, creating elections for a Toledo Hills farmers Cooperative of Milpa Farms carbon sequestering program, the setting up of a farmers bank account to distribute bond revenue to farmers according to acreage, overflights and photographs for annual proofs of lands cleared for milpa that are going back into fallow jungle production which would be eligible for Bond Certification.

The organizing and paperwork should be right down the alley of Belmopan port city educated salaried civil service types. The farmers would get a steady cash flow annually to supplement their income and become eligible to pay income taxes, more cash circulating in the Toledo Hills would create pockets of investment capital to raise standards of living and relieve poverty. Heck! I bet you could even run the program from FOREIGN GRANTS out of Belmopan, based on the POVERTY jingoist jargon alone used in foreign AID circles nowadays.

While technically this would be a function of the Marketing Board, they do not seem to have these sort of skills. Nor do they have a very good historical record.

If I was the Prime Minister, I would start a program in Belmopan right away and whoever did that wonderful funding of the Archeological Restoration project would be my first choice to implement the program. Pay for the program by GRANTS!

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