Ya’axché Participates in Exchange at Guatemala

Last week Ya’axché participated in an exchange in Peten, Guatemala accompanied by community members of Medina Bank, San Antonio, Cayo and the Belize Forest Department. They met with 14 other conservationist from Guatemala and Mexico. They spent time learning about the Guatemala system of protected areas and many livelihood activities that promote more environmentally-friendly activities to farmers and cattle ranchers. The exchange was very enlightening and great to build international partnership in Mexico and Guatemala. There is a drive fro greater communication and collaboration between our Mexican and Guatemalan counterparts.

Xaté Processing Plant

Xaté Processing Plant

Points of Interest:

* There is a strong focus on Xaté as a livelihood crop in Guatemala. The exchange group visited many successful farms including two that integrated natural (or at least mostly natural) forest canopies into the life cycle of the Xaté plant; the forest maintains its integrity while transplanted Xaté thrived underneath. 1 to 2 leaves were collected every 3 – 4 months off of every plant. The owner had an integrated farm, but was making most of his money off the Xaté.

* The tough issue with Xaté is controlling and certifying that it is grown or harvested from legal areas and not illegally extracted from protected areas in Guatemala and Belize. This system still needs improvement in both countries.

* A Xaté facility in Poptun, Guatemala claimed they had been purchasing the legal Xaté from Belize. They said in the past month this has changed as a facility in Belmopan is now packaging and exporting the Xaté directly to the U.S.

* One staff member of Ya’axché believes that Belize should embrace Xaté as a crop and at the same time set up solid sustainable extraction controls and certification process. We could also look at the canopy crop idea similar to Cacao.

* Ramon Tree nut collection and production into healthy foods was also a very successful project through the Rainforest Alliance who looks to replicate efforts elsewhere.

* There is a solid current environment for partnership within the region.

This is the information Ya’axché got while participating in the exchange and we are now sharing it with you all.

Ya'aché's Protected Areas Manager and Medina Bank's Alcalde, Pablo Salam

Ya'axché's Protected Areas Manager and Medina Bank's Alcalde, Pablo Salam

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