In hindsight, would you do this job again?”
All three, without hesitation, replied in the same way
“Yes, because it’s a beautiful job”
The primary sector of the economy in Sardinia, in the specific farming and fishing, currently offers work to 8,7% of the employed.
Over the centuries, the prevalence of historical events, such as malaria and incursions, have favored the abandonment of the coasts and the fertile lands of the plain causing a substantial decline in activities related to agriculture and fishing, with the consequent and progressive withdrawal towards sheep farming activities. The deep roots of sheep farming activity in the Sardinian society has ancient origins and derives not only from the succession of historical events, but also from the institutional and market conditions that have favored its persistence and development. The strong cultural, environmental and economic value of pastoral activity has always distinguished Sardinia in the national scenario.
The “Piano di Rinascita” (Renaissance Plan), approved by the Parliament in the early 1960s with the aim of financing and facilitating the industrialization of Sardinia, marked the beginning of the crisis in the fragile Sardinian primary sector. The industrialization of Sardinia, which also intended to weaken the agro-pastoral socio-economic structures that were thought to feed the phenomenon of banditry, failed, causing further social disintegration and a limited agricultural transformation of the territory. Many farmers in the following years, exhausted by job and economic precariousness left the lands to work in the factories, capable of guaranteeing a secure salary.
Even the Santa Gilla lagoon, one of the most important wetlands in Europe by extension and importance of biodiversity, has undergone the overwhelming advance of the chemical industry, born right in the banks of the lagoon. The natural boundaries have been profoundly altered due to reclamation works which were followed by the birth of the Macchiareddu industrial area and the urbanization of neighboring areas, thus reducing its original surfaces to a quarter. The pouring of industrial and civil waste through the tributaries of the lagoon has altered the quality of the water to the detriment of the fish fauna, which has been slowly impoverished over time, causing enormous inconvenience to the fishing industry in the lagoon. In this occasion too, hundreds of fishermen left their boats to become workers of that industry that occupied the shores of the lagoon. Only in the 90s, thanks to important environmental recovery interventions, the production activity was restored.
Due to the continuous and exasperating crisis that grips the Sardinian primary sector, in the recent decades there has been a reduction in job opportunities, with a consequent decrease in employment, exacerbating the island’s socio-economic situation. In parallel, extra-family workforce has grown, bringing to light one of the biggest problems of the primary sector in Sardinia: generational turnover.
The primary sector continues to be unattractive for young people, especially if they do not come from traditionally farming families. Despite the high unemployment rate, it is difficult to find workers for farms and fisheries.
The stories of Francesco, Tarcisio and Davide represent thousands of Sardinian breeders, farmers and fishermen who, despite facing difficulties, work hard every day keeping alive a sector that for centuries has been the economic engine of the island.
Nosu biveus po lassai arrastu is the exploration of an archaic world, rich in history and tradition, through a nostalgic and poetic photography, with the aim of safeguarding that feeling of memory, capable of producing an emotional tension between present and past.
All images and text © Andrea Cocco
By Andrea Cocco
Edge of Humanity Magazine is an independent nondiscriminatory platform that has no religious, political, financial, or social affiliations.
We are committed to publishing the human condition, the raw diverse global entanglement, with total impartiality.
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