Praiseworthy government projects, executed during the political season often get dismissed as gimmicks or even worse, bribes paid with the hope that the recipient will vote in favour of the ruling party. One project, introduced this season, that we hope is never maligned in such a manner is the Love Box programme.
No one should ever underestimate the positive impact that this project is having on the lives of Vincentians made vulnerable by the coronavirus pandemic. To date, almost 5000 families have benefitted from the programme which began in May.
Good policy makes good politics and this may well be the case with the Love Box programme as it is difficult to find any negatives associated with it.
The project, established through the Ministry of Agriculture as part of its thrust to address fallouts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, makes regular deliveries of boxes of locally produced food to families who are hard pressed to make ends meet during this difficult time.
No two boxes are the exactly same, but they are typically filled with a variety of ground provision, green bananas, plantain, fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs, sufficient for a family of four for one week, and which, if purchased on the open market, could cost as much as $100. Think about the difference this would make to a family whose breadwinner has lost her job, or who is now operating on reduced income!
There might be a perception among observers about the profile of the beneficiaries of this program. No assumptions should be made, as many of the people who are struggling to put food on their tables may, because of pride, not publicly acknowledge how grateful they are for the help.
But while the recipients are happy and relieved, so too are the hundreds of farmers from whom the produce is bought.
They had seen a sudden and drastic decline in their income after shipment of produce to Trinidad and Barbados had trickled to a halt in three or four months ago. The decentralization of the programme, with buying depots at Langley Park, Lauders, La Croix, Rose Bank and Rilland Hill, makes easy, the participation of farmers from all over St Vincent.
The programme has also received recognition regionally, with the Food and Agriculture Organization’s deputy regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean describing the programme as inspirational. Other countries in the hemisphere have apparently also adopted the programme, with it being renamed in Latin America as “Caja de amor” — Box of Love.
Praise for this excellent policy initiative can never be too much.