FEATURES » Employment in agriculture up but poor weather hits harvests

Employment in agriculture up but poor weather hits harvests

According to a recent study of “Istat” finding a job for a young lady aged between 15 and 29 is almost impossible in the south of Italy. Among this age group apparently less than 2 out of ten have a permanent job.

Well, we got used to depressive news about unemployment, but hang on, this time we also have a good one.

“Coldiretti” commented on the lack of jobs for women in the south stating that the majority of women who work in agriculture are located in the south where more than 280 thousand have found jobs in the countryside, on a national total of 406 thousand.

Female employees represent in the south 43% of the total, more than in other regions of the country.

Puglia employs around 82,000; Calabria (56,000); followed by Sicily (39,000), Campania (34,000); Basilicata (14,000) and Sardinia (6,000).

According to “Coldiretti” it’s a progressive process of feminization of the countryside that affects not only the employee but also the entrepreneurial activity.

What emerges from an analysis of “Coldiretti” based on Istat data for the second quarter of 2012 is that during the financial crisis there was a hiring boom in agriculture which is the sector with the highest increase in the number of employees (a record increase of 10.1 per cent), in sharp contrast with the general trend that shows high levels of unemployment.  

The positive trend in agriculture is particularly important because it is the result of a record growth of 13.7 per cent in the north but also of 3.5 percent in the south, while there is a slight decrease in central Italy (- 3.2 per cent).

It is also estimated that one worker out of four is less than 40 years old and there is a strong presence of young workers and immigrants, which more than exceeded one hundred thousand.

Nevertheless, a reason of concern are the effects of heat and drought that cut harvests in the Summer and Autumn and are likely to leave without a job many of the two hundred thousand young people engaged in the activities of harvesting fruit and vegetables.

The collapse of agricultural crops this year goes from 22% for pears to 13% for apples to 50% for tomatoes in Puglia and 10% for the harvest of grapes in the last 5 years in the whole of Italy. 

These negative data are the consequence of the unfavourable weather which has caused more than 1 billion direct damage to agriculture but had also side effects on the National economy. 

Giulia Lombardo

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