Prove means taste in Portuguese. If you still do not know where to buy fruits and vegetables near where you live, get to know the PROVE project. A project developed by public and private entities that “intends to sell baskets of fruit and vegetables from the producer directly to the consumer, fostering a close relationship between those who produce and those consume who consume."
Let’s “prove" a little of this project!
… in 2006 with two centres of 2 and 3 producers, in Palmela and Sesimbra, Portugal, and with 30 consumers in each delivery location, to solve the difficulties that small producers had in accessing the marketing channels. This access is conditioned due to the requirements raised by the largest supermarkets chains that exist in the country (product calibration, prices, quantities and payment dates) and the importation of agri-food products. The excessive tax burden and legal responsibility that fall on these food products are other issues that harm small farmers.
In order to introduce the small farmer to the market, the PROVE network is born, which is implemented from “North to South of the country and consists of 20 dynamic entities that support 119 centers, 160 delivery locations, 125 agricultural holdings divided by 12 districts and 7.000 registered consumers, the majority with weekly basket delivery.”
It is a project that benefits from institutional and local support, such as city councils, associations, companies, farmers collectives, foundations and schools.
Each centre is constituted according to some pre-established procedures, but there is room for flexibility in the incorporation of the methodology and for the sharing, among centres, of practices and ways of acting between all partners. To join PROVE, just follow the steps found at www.prove.com.pt.
… promotes the sale of fruit and vegetable baskets that go directly from the producer to the consumer, “fostering a close relationship between those who produce and those who consume”.
It promotes the constitution of small groups of farmers, between three and four members, who meet every week to prepare baskets with vegetables and fruits for direct delivery to the consumer at a fixed price. The project aims to make farmers the only players in their own business.
… can weight between 6 and 8 Kg at a fixed price that can vary between 10 and 12 euros, depending on the region of the country. There are also PROVE baskets 100% BIO with a weight that varies between 5 to 7 Kg, whose price is fixed at 15 euros.
The baskets are organized with “selected and high quality” products, as follows:
* Soup base (eg. potato, onion, carrot, pumpkin, green beans, etc.);
* Accompaniment of meals (eg. lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.);
* Fruit (eg. orange, apple, strawberry, etc.);
* Aromatic herbs (eg parsley, bay leaf, coriander, etc.).
Products are produced by using environmentally sustainable processes and “harvested on the day of delivery, in order to guarantee their quality and freshness”.
The constitution of the basket respects the seasonality of the crops, varying throughout the year, depending on the crops produced at the time of the year.
If the consumer has any questions, the producers are available to answer and provide information about each product and how they can cook and prepare them.
In special cases, consumers can visit farms.
PROVE is organized by a multidisciplinary team…
… “who has specialized in the areas of agricultural production, food, local community development and in supporting territorial processes.”
The coordinating entity and the network of project partners disseminate actions through websites, social networks and through local and regional media. PROVE’s partners follow several local and regional initiatives, and integrate national working groups.
The project team is made up of public and private entities, which provide technical support for the implementation and promotion of PROVE in their territories. For more information on the associations and public administration bodies involved, you can consult www.prove.com.pt.
PROVE is based on principles that are included in food sustainability, such as…
… the promotion of local consumption, through the sale of proximity and the use of short circuits and promotion of sustainable production and consumption through training, animation, territorial intervention and local entrepreneurship.
PROVE is a project that faces challenges at different levels…
… depending on whether they are related to partner entities, producers or consumers.
The partner entities have some difficulty in guaranteeing the technical and financial sustainability in supporting these local initiatives, they face the lack of sensitivity of policy makers to the issue of local consumption and short circuits and there is an insufficient number of territorial aggregator strategies.
Producers are faced with difficulties in guaranteeing the financing conditions that their activity requires, due to the lack of capital or the difficulty of accessing bank credit. The fact that they are often dependent on climatic factors, which influences the quantities, variety and regularity of the product offer, and also the inefficient time management between production activities and the sale of products, makes them susceptible to fail to meet the demand. In addition, despite being a local sales project, there are problems with distance from production points to urban centres, and a need to increase the skills of producers in understanding the needs and expectations of consumers.
For production to be more efficient, there is a need to increase resource efficiency. Access to adequate facilities, equipment and information systems and the existence of cold chains in production, processing and distribution and sale, is essential to ensure that producers are able to manage their businesses more efficiently.
There is also a problem in terms of training, as the formats and contents of the actions that exist are inadequate and there is a great lack of knowledge, on the part of the producers, about new information technologies.
Regarding the legal aspects in force, these are also inappropriate for the dimensions of the productions.
Many of these problems could be solved if there was a culture of cooperation and organization between producers.
For the consumer there is a difficulty in understanding that the offer is little diversified and irregular due to the seasonality of the products. Nor does the consumer know, as a rule, the benefits of local consumption, nor the reality of the rural world and producers.
Sometimes, the consumer and producer are not available for trade because their schedules are not coincident or the selling point are not suitable for the consumer.
PROVE has around 7.000 associated consumers…
… “and the majority are aged between 26 and 45 years old (73%). More than half (65%) have a degree or higher degree and 25% have a 12th or 7th degree of high school. Most consumers are part of households made up of 3 and 4 people. Still regarding consumer households, it should be noted that 42% have a monthly family income of more than 2.000 euros and 65% indicated that it was more than 1.500 euros. ” Most PROVE associates have had, or have, some contact with the rural environment.
The biggest channels of disclosure that PROVE has “are those of great proximity and informality”, from family members, acquaintances and friends or other consumers. Other means of dissemination include the media, internet, fairs and other events.
“Most consumers purchase the PROVE basket on a fortnightly basis (58%). Only about 31% do it weekly and very few are those who purchase it monthly (4%) or sporadically (7%) ”.
For the 66% of consumers, products in the PROVE basket satisfy more than 50% of their needs and for 33% and 29%
the basket satisfies, respectively, between 50-75% and 75-100% of consumers.
In order to arise conscience to food sustainability, PROVE suggests…
… that there is a need to promote short agro-food circuits, by promoting knowledge of market needs in order to streamline business and avoid waste. It is crucial for producers to know the real needs of their customers and create a flow of communication with each other, creating a relationship of mutual trust. Without this knowledge, the producer / consumer link is compromised. Access to quality local products, fresh, with affordable prices, information on the origin of the product (method of production) and its specificities (colour, flavour, agricultural variety, method of use), are points that must be communicated to the consumer. The consumer is more informed and wants to know, what he consumes.
For food sustainability to be possible, it is necessary to invest in innovative alternatives that encompass new agricultural processes and technologies throughout the chain, from production to the sale of products. Thus it is possible to guarantee quality and constant food to the consumer.
It is necessary to invest in the valorization and differentiation of local agricultural products and native species. The creation of a brand and a quality policy associated with the product is essential to present to the consumer and to distinguish competitors brands.
One of the main problems for small producers is the difficulty they have in obtaining financing to proceed with the production and sale of products. The agrifood sector is very complex and needs a lot of investment, from the beginning of the production chain until the moment the product reaches the customer.
But essentially, it is necessary for producers to associate with each other so that there is a reduction in costs associated with the production and marketing of agricultural products.
Distinctions between national and European institutions:
Project of the month of the European Rural Network, due to the use of ICT in an agricultural business activity.
High potential social entrepreneurship initiative by the IES – Social Entrepreneurship Institute.
1st place in the “Support for the development of ecological and economic resource markets” category, in the 10th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (European Enterprise Promotion Awards – EEPA).
Project selected for exhibition in Portugal at the European Conference on Rural Development in Cork, Ireland.
Project selected by INHERIT as a promising European practice for agricultural and environmental sustainability, Horizon 2020.
Videos from PROVE:
Mentions to PROVE:
(2019), “Entrepreneurship in rural areas – the case of the PROVE project", in Entrepreneurship and Regional Development – Practical Cases, Edições Sílabo.
(2015), “The Case of PROVE”, in Network: Reflections on Opportunities, Edition Associação In Loco.
(2013), “PROVE – Promote and Sell”, in Innovation in Rural Portugal, Main Edition.
(2013), “PROVE – Promote and Sell”, in LEADER Cooperation – Project Evaluation, Monitoring and Repertory, Edition of the General Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development and Minha Terra – Portuguese Federation of Local Development Associations.
(2008), “Commercialization of Proximity (re) a Producer and Consumer”, in Success Stories in Social Innovation, Edition of the Equal Management Office.
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