Despite satisfactory rainfall this monsoon, Maharashtra registered a paltry fall of 5% in farmer suicides to 3,063 in 2016 from 3,228 in 2015 .
The new numbers have raised questions over policies of the state government, which has allocated Rs25,000 crore for agriculture.
Shockingly, the number of suicides in the last six months after the 2016 monsoon set in was as high as in 2014 and 2015 for the same period.
Suicides in Yavatmal and Osmanabad districts were the highest, despite Krishi Samruddhi Yojana and Baliraja Chetana Yojana schemes to counsel farmers to reduce the number of deaths there.
The Marathwada region, which has been worst hit by the drought for last three years, witnessed 1,053 suicides in 2016 against 1,133 in 2015, while Vidarbha (Amravati and Nagpur division of administration) registered 1,451 deaths in 2016 against 1,570 in 2015.
Yavatmal witnessed a significant reduction in the cases to 278 in 2016 from 386 in 2015. Amravati and Osmanabad, however, did not chart any dip.
About 40% of suicides were termed ‘ineligible’ by the district administrations, thus denying the government help to the agrarian families. The number of ‘ineligible’ cases went up in 2016 compared to 2015.
“It is true that farm production increased this year owing to satisfactory rainfall this year. But the drastic fall in the price to the produce has led to a great loss. For instance, tur price has fallen to Rs4,000 a quintal from Rs12,000 last year. The Swaminathan Commission has suggested minimum support price, which includes 50% profit to farmers; however, governments have failed to fix the rate. The failure to implement governments policies has resulted in the abysmal suicide numbers,” said Vijay Jawandhia, a farm activist and Shetkari Sanghatana leader.
Talking about various measures being taken under the Baliraja Chetna Yojana, Rajesh Khawle, resident district collector of Yavatmal, said, “By identifying the socio-economic problems faced by farmers in the district, we launched various schemes. Farmers were found distressed owing to health problems, marriages of their kids and the cash crunch.”
“By forming committees at the village level, we identified six families per village each for these problems and helped them with Rs5,000 each. The grant for the marriages in the family was raised to Rs35,000. This yielded us good result in the last one year,” he said.