Cultivating the Organic Union by Razvan Zamfira

The European Commission targets a tripling in the EU’s organic farmland from today’s 8.5 percent of agricultural terrain to one quarter by 2030. Cash and subsidies will be available at national and international levels to finance this revolution but to fuel this drive, farms will need more employees, who undertake often back-breaking work. However, a major issue with farming in EU countries is its dependence on workers from abroad, who are at risk of trafficking, exploitation and abuse.

After six months investigating this phenomenon, with a particular focus on Italy, the team has gathered data on organic farming and the changes in patterns of mobile workers. The mix of data visualizations, interactive maps and articles shaped the story of a rising demand for organic food and a growing problem — a rise in cases of foreign workers exploited on organic farms.

Looking at available data, we’ve first painted a general picture of the EU organic market, analyzing which countries grow the most organic food and their future potential to satisfy the growing demand of consumers. Italy seems to be in a prime position to see this organic upswing, its regions Sicily, Apulia and Calabria holding 46% of the organic surface nationwide.
But its fields rely on foreign workers who often found themselves at risk of labor exploitation.

By visualizing multiple data sets and combining them with field reporting Cultivating the Organic Union aims to raise awareness about this rooted labor inequality and to explore the human cost of the EU’s agricultural revolution.