This body of work portrays the social and economic landscape of the Spanish greenhouse plains of Almeria. Once a deserted land and traditionally an impoverished territory, today the Almeria fields represent the largest concentration of plastic greenhouses in the world.
This economic rush has attracted many migrant workers from the northern and western countries of the African continent. Since September 2007 and during the course of several trips in 2008 I have been documenting the sheer scale of this agricultural activity.The principal aim of this photo essay is to show how the mass-production of vegetables for northern European markets has dramatically shaped the landscape of this region. This profitable agribusiness has pushed the land to its very environmental limits, jeopardizing at the very same time its own sustainable development. The lack of natural resources essential for agricultural development has been made up with large financial and technological investments. With little more than 200 millimetres of annual precipitation, the industry relies on groundwater fed by small stream aquifers from the Sierra de Gádor Mountains to the north. But as most coastal aquifers become contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers and seawater an increasing number of environmentalists question the long-term economic sustainability of this industry.
In addition to the landscapes, this body of work also focuses on the role that agricultural workers play in this industry. Almeria is a remarkable example of transit migration and it is still one of the main arrival points of undocumented migrant workers from Africa into the European Union. I have been able to meet Hamze from Gambia, Francisco from Senegal and Nabil and Samil from Morocco, among others, in the intimacy of the shacks and derelict houses in which they live.
The fact is that more than 20,000 undocumented workers are systematically employed in this labour-intensive industry and many have to endure extreme living and working conditions. All have set sail across a murderous sea to reach the Spanish shore but only to become trapped in the red tape of immigration rules in this dramatic maze of white plastic.
— Reinaldo Loureiro took part in the 2009 Rhubarb-Rhubarb International Photographic Review.
FeatureOut of SeasonReinaldo Loureiro has documented the world’s largest concentration of high-tech plastic greenhouse farms on the coast of Spain, as well as the illegal immigrants who provide the cheap labor there to feed most of Europe.View Images
Out of Season
Reinaldo Loureiro has documented the world’s largest concentration of high-tech plastic greenhouse farms on the coast of Spain, as well as the illegal immigrants who provide the cheap labor there to feed most of Europe.View Images
Out of Season
Reinaldo Loureiro has documented the world’s largest concentration of high-tech plastic greenhouse farms on the coast of Spain, as well as the illegal immigrants who provide the cheap labor there to feed most of Europe.
Greenhouse structures blend with the Mediterranean Sea. Albuñol, Granada. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Partial view of the Campo de Dalías, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Hydroponic system set up. El Ejido, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Rock-wool hydroponic bags are piled up in a recycling plant in El Ejido, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Francisco, San Agustin. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Roquetas de Mar, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Pepper plants growing in a hydroponics set up. El Ejido, Almeria. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Hamze. Las Norias de Daza, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Greenhouse tops. Paraje Chozas de Lupión. El Ejido, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Fire in an illegal dump. La Mojonera, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Cousins, San Isidro, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
"Matias. Spring. Thick and Hard. De Ruiter Seeds". San Isidro, Níjar. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Reservoir. Dalías, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
"Like a Rocket. Yields the largest courgettes. Seminis". La Mojonera, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Mamadou, Puebla de Vícar, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Makeshift shack. San Agustin, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Friends, San Agustin. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Palms, El Alquián, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Abdelkebir, San Agustin. © Reinaldo Loureiro
Billboard. El Ejido, Almería. © Reinaldo Loureiro
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