Even though the farmer suicide rate in Vidarbha region has come down, farmers there are still resorting to that option. As many as three farmers have ended their lives in the region in last 24 hours because of crippling debts, non-availability of money and other agrarian crisis.
According to the divisional headquarters this afternoon, all the victims were from Gondia, a rice-bowl region of the state. They were identified as: Sukhchand Babulal Gautam, 56, of Khadipartola, Revaram Bhaisa, 38, of Kakodi village and Hiralal Lilhare, 30, of Galatola. Gautam killed himself by swallowing poison while Lilhare and Bhaisa ended their lives by hanging themselves.
The family members of Gautam said he went to his farm on Wednesday but did not return home. His family members thought he may return home late at night. So they preferred to wait instead of looking for him in the locality. On Wednesday, his wife and son started a hunt to trace him and they found his body in the farm. It was said that he consumed pesticide to end his life.
Gautam’s family members said he had taken loan from the cooperative bank and private money lender, but was unable to repay the amount. The burden of loans had taken a toll on his mental status that prompted him to take the extreme step. Similarly, Bhaisa had too borrowed crop loans from cooperative societies at Kakodi. However, he was unable to repay this loan because of non-availability of cash and a meager rate of agriculture produces in the wake of demonetisation.
A depressed and frustrated Bhaisa committed suicide by hanging himself. His body was found hanging from a tree on Tuesday evening. Body of Lilhare was also found hanging from a tree on an agriculture farm. The police have registered both the cases as accidental deaths and further investigations are on.
The incidents of farmers’ suicides have zoomed again in the region after demonetisation as debt-ridden farmers are finding it hard to arrange cash for their livelihood. Already facing crop failure for last three consecutive years because of droughts, farmers are facing severe financial problems as Kharif was in the midst of harvesting while the winter crop, Rabi was in the early stage of sowing when the announcement was made.
Several farmers in the region said that non-availability of currency even compelled them to sell the rice, cotton, soyabean and tur far below the prevailing prices. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, that has been documenting the farmers’ suicide since 2001, said as many as 318 farmers had committed suicide because of agrarian crisis last year (2016) while the figure was 540 in 2015.
Kishore Tiwari, the chairman of the state Agriculture Mission did not rule out demonetisation as one of the factors of recent farmers’ suicide. “We are examining all such cases and will come out with the facts soon,” Tiwari added.