Four farmers have committed suicide in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra over the past two days after the failure of their crops because of poor rainfall, taking the number of farmers who ended their lives in the area this month to 27.
The four distressed farmers took the drastic step after they could not raise funds for fresh sowing of crops following the beginning of the kharif season last month. The crops failed because there has been no rain in the region since the last week of June.
The latest victims of the agrarian crisis were identified as Bapurao Zhade of Raveri village, Pundalik Saplekar of Dabha village (both in Yavatmal district), Vilas Gawande of Kalashi in Amravati district and Devidas Take of Dhanaj in Washim district. They belonged to the cotton-producing belt of western Vidarbha.
With these deaths, the toll in the region this month has risen to 27, said Kishore Tiwari, president of the Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, a farmers pressure group. The figure for last month was 78.
As many as 812 farmers committed suicide because of the agrarian crisis till July 13, while the figure for 2014 was 1072, Tiwari said. “The farmers in the region are depressed and distressed as there were no rains in the area since June 18, and the crops that they sowed dried up. They could not generate further funds for fresh sowing,” Tiwari said.
Only 80,000 of the 4 lakh farmers in the area got crop loans during the kharif season under the government’s scheme to restructure crop loans. A majority of them had to approach money lenders after their crops dried up, he said. “They have no alternative but to take such drastic steps,” he added.
Rajendra Khawle, the resident deputy collector of Yavatmal district, where two farmers committed suicide, said he had not been informed about the latest victims.
He acknowledged that only farmers who defaulted on loans in 2014 were provided crop loans this year under the restructuring scheme. Tiwari demanded that farmers affected by the lack of rains should be given fresh loans for re-sowing crops. They should also be provided food grains till the harvesting season, he said.
Earlier in the year, unseasonal rains and hailstorms ruined cotton and soyabean crops in western Vidarbha. Farmers groups said an “unfair” minimum support price set by the government and inflation had raised debts levels among cultivators.
Suicide have spiked in the rain-fed cotton growing region of Vidarbha. A spate of deaths is reported every time the harvest looks bleak, farmers’ representatives said.
“The cause for concern is not just the suicide rate but the entire agrarian situation. Suicides are only an indication of the miserable condition of farmers in the region,” Tiwari said.