Turning setbacks into opportunities as occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, Agriculture Minister Hon Saboto Caesar said recently that the ministry’s ‘Love Box’ initiative has reaped benefits for local farmers and Vincentian households.
“Today the Love Box initiative has already distributed 15,000 parcels of food to the vulnerable across this country, created an internal market for farmers, paid excellent prices, employed persons and has introduced a special love box for diabetics”, said Minister Caesar while speaking at the 2nd Virtual Public Meeting for the Unity Labour Party.
He also announced to listeners that “in a week, we will begin the distribution of some 25,000 love boxes of arrowroot starch. The love box programme is now seen as a best practice in the hemisphere. The ‘caja de amor’ or box of love has found its way into the literature of the FAO”.
The South Central Windward Member of Parliament (MP) said he was happy to announce that the initiative is being expanded upon to provide even greater opportunities for farmers. The Minister who himself is a farmer told the audience and listeners via live stream:
“I am happy to announce that yesterday, sample love boxes were sent via air to the British Virgin Islands for sale. A sailor from South Rivers is using it as a brand to bring a market opportunity for our farmers and traders right in this country”.
In his presentation, the MP of the rural farming constituency championed his stewardship and outlined some other immediate plans.
“The five (5) buying depots across this country will also from next week be used for traders to meet traffickers. They will settle prices and payment terms and sign contracts between themselves. We must repair the broken relationships existing between our farmers and traffickers”.
He further said:
“When cheaper fertiliser was needed to boost production, COVI9-19 did not stop this government from offering the fertiliser at half price. Again, we found the answer. As of today, over 15 000 sacks of fertiliser has been sold at half price and more fertiliser will be coming to assist the farmers to be sold at half price”.
The initiative is part of the government’s effort to stabilize the agricultural industry which has faced a crippling drought and trade related COVID-19 challenges. The government has responded by designing the program as a stimulus for farmers to enhance production.