The miseries of farmers of Vidarbha have aggravated with monsoon playing truant. Already driven to resorting to desperate measures owing to prevailing agrarian crisis, the farmers are now faced with the threat of resowing their crop if it doesn’t rain soon.
Against this grim scenario, suicides by distressed farmers continue to haunt the killing field of Vidarbha. As many as four farmers, including a woman, ended their lives in last 48 hours in the region. The farmers’ suicide toll has reached 48 in June as against 52 in May this year. A total of 416 farmers ended their lives because of debts and crop failure since January 2012. The situation is so severe that at least two farmers commit suicide in the region every day.
According to reports reaching Nagpur on Friday, one farmer each from Yavatmal, Buldhana, Amravati and Wardha in western part of Vidarbha, swallowed pesticides to end life after they were denied fresh crop loans by the banks for this season.
Kiran Khodke of Atraj village in Buldhana district committed suicide when first sowing dried up because of paucity of rainfall. He had sowed soyabean and cotton after borrowing loans from private moneylenders. However, it did not click as there was no rainfall in the area for the last 10 days thus sowing dried up. A depressed Khodke could not arrange for funds for resowing finally swallowed pesticide to end his life.
Khodke’s family rushed him to the nearest civil hospital where he died this morning. The other three deaths are more or less similar. "These farmers were depressed when they were denied bank loans and could not start the sowing process this kharif season," claimed Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti that has been documenting the farmers’ suicide in the region.
Three other farmers who committed suicide include: Vishwanath Khawai, Nara (Wardha), Waman Shende of Sonurli (Yavatmal) and Manorama Deshmukh, Chandash (Wathoda) in Amravati district.
The region has been witnessing spate of suicides since 1997. The state as well as the central government came out with several relief packages to bail-out distressed farmers. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 3,750-crore relief package during his 2006 visit to the region. However, these packages failed to stem the suicides. As many as 918 farmers ended their lives last year.
There was a time when this part of Central India was well-known for its rich black cotton soil. Gradually the picture changed and now the region presents a picture of poverty, parched land and widows. Poor rainfall, expensive healthcare, rise in agro-input costs and the lure of latest consumer durables etc have led to the financial misery of the farmers. Moreover, they are not getting remunerative price of their produce because of the prevailing prices and demand in the international markets or so the farmers are given to believe.
Ashwin Mudgal, the Yavatmal district collector, was not available for comments. Yavatmal is one of the worst suicide-hit districts in the region.
Farmer Suicides In Vidarbha Region - Yearwise
2012: 416 (till June 29)