With nearly 1,800 farmers having killed themselves over the agrarian crisis this year, Maharashtra is now involving nine different governmental departments to roll out an action plan to arrest the agrarian crisis in the state.
From forming more than 100 groups comprising farmers, who will work on various issues such as sustainable farming, soil conservation, women farmer issues, among others, to having psychiatrists and psychologists to treat distressed farmers, the government has now inked a plan that goes beyond monetary measures alone.
Through the new action plan, state aims to provide a new push towards mental health care for families in distress. Accordingly, the health department will begin by appointing psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors in all rural hospitals in crisis-hit districts. The women and child welfare department has also been tasked with reaching out to widows of farmers to help them arrange for their daughters’ weddings.
To tackle the crisis affecting the farmlands, the state has also involved the co-operative department, the employment guarantee scheme department and the planning department. The involvements of these departments apart from the ones routinely tackling the issue such as agriculture, water supply and sanitation, signals a new approach to the issue, pointed out officials.
At the heart of this approach is the need to provide a social security cover to distressed farmers and also encourage agro-related activities in order to wean away the farmer’s financial dependence on farming.
For instance, while the agriculture department will promote setting up of micro agro-based industries, the animal husbandry department will seek to promote pisciculture and prawn farming, instead of largely depending on traditional activities such as poultry and dairy farming.
“We have realised that farmers almost completely depend on traditional activities in these crisis-hit districts. We have a two-pronged approach, which is boosting the farmer’s morale and egging him on, whereas, at the same, opening up other avenues for his livelihood,” said an official from the agriculture department.