An online market to connect small farmers with urban consumers

Adelaide.Farm is a project that built up an online market for small farmers to connect with the urban consumers in south Portugal. Through the website, the consumers can buy products (from a responsible agriculture) and even have an online vegetable garden, while the farmers can sell their products at fair prices, increasing their income. The project aims at fighting against rural depopulation and empowering small farmers who have strong difficulties to sell their products at a fair price and who tend to abandon the field.

Presentation of Adelaide.Farm

The project “Adelaide.Farm” was created in 2016 by a teacher and 5 agronomic students from the Polytechnic Institute of Beja, in South Portugal. Adelaide.Farm is an online platform which objective is to connect consumers and small producers. The platform allows on one hand consumers to know exactly what they buy, who is the producer and how products are made (production mode used); on the other hand, small producers who participate in the project can define the price of their products and provide information about their production mode.

At the moment the platform sells at Beja and Lisbon and the platform offers 80 different products, including vegetables, fruits, and also jam, eggs, dehydrated fruit and vegetables. Most of consumers, at Beja, buy products on a weekly-basis, while in Lisbon, it is occasionally.

 A “virtual garden” where consumers can manage and buy future productions to farmers, and the increase of quantity (to company stores, restaurants…) are being developed.

Objectives and challenges for the online market

The objective of the project is to achieve an average income, for farmer, of about 900€/month and to have about 200 small farmers and about 800 consumers on the platform by 2019.

However, one of the biggest challenge for the project is to involve and engage small farmers to work with an online platform to sell their products. The platform only wants to engage with small producers to allow them to become more competitive and to sell their products at a fair price, compared to big farming companies.
To help small producers to be active on the online market, Adelaide.Farm has also put in place a role of “Organizer” on the platform. This service can be led by an individual or an association that will be responsible to introduce and explain the working of the platform and to manage the information given to the platform, by receiving a percentage (around 16%) over the price of each product that are sold on the platform. The “organizer” is also responsible for the delivery of the products at the pickup point (where the consumers collect the products).
In the upcoming months, the platform hopes to have an increase participation of small farmers.

Impacts for the rural agriculture

At the end of 2017, after two seasons, the platform counts 82 small farmers and about 250 consumers.
The project can be seen as a win-win solution, for both farmers and consumers.
Farmers can connect with more consumers and sell their products at a fair price, while consumers can buy fresh products directly from the farm, knowing the origin and the production mode of what they eat. For example, small farmers at Beja who participate in the project are happy with being able to expand and develop their production.

Obviously, some improvements are needed to develop the project, including informing small producers to this new commercialization method which is different from the traditional one. Consumers are ready and are waiting for more quality products coming from small farmers, nevertheless, there are not many different products, not a lot of diversity, and a limited quantity which limits the use of the platform.

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5 December 2017