Angelo Scelfo: The Strip

Italy: Marina di Acate – April 2024.

It has been called the ‘transformed belt’ and consists of a set of territories in southern Sicily where greenhouse farming activities have replaced the original crops. This transformation has led to the partial destruction of dune environments with the consequent pollution of the coast, the loss of biodiversity and a strong marginalisation of migrant communities. In fact, migrants are the majority of the workforce.

Those who work in the greenhouses are also hidden from the rest of the community as they live, in most cases, in rural settings and in employer-provided housing that is often shacks or company sheds. Throughout the area, entry into the labour market is a profoundly precarious process, marked by daily relationships and articulated solely in terms of exploitative relationships.

In recent decades, the number of greenhouses on the island has practically tripled. An example is the case of Santa Croce di Camerina (RG) in which has the highest percentage ratio of migrant population employed in agriculture and the municipality hosts half of the foreign population registered in the province. A simple estimate of the area covered by the greenhouses, which changes every year, shows an area of about 61 square kilometres surrounding the town.

The NGO Emergency operates in the entire area of the transformed belt. In addition to having a psychological support programme for the labourers, it is vital for those who otherwise would not have access to basic health services.

Finally, there is the environmental factor. Greenhouse agriculture requires an intensive use of pesticides and fertilisers that lead to a progressive loss of fertility and a high rate of soil consumption. Residues seem to be a determining factor in the pollution of water analysed by ISPRA. The institute calculates that at least 66,176 tonnes of fertilisers are released annually into the island’s agricultural systems. To this is added atmospheric pollution from dioxins due to the numerous fires lit at the end of the day to burn greenhouse maintenance waste often made of plastic.

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Angelo Scelfo, Italian photojournalist based in Bologna (Italy). Born in October 1979 in Bologna and grown up in Sicily. I studied philosophy at Università degli studi di Palermo and photography at ISFCI in Rome. Since 2005 I have been involved in photography, today I dedicate myself full time to photojournalism as a freelancer. I also like to write: the world of self-productions and fanzines has always been the most congenial to me. I live between Bologna, Rome and Palermo.

Angelo Scelfo photographer


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