Six farmers die by suicide in Vidarbha in past 24 hrs

Updated on Sep 03, 2022 05:15 PM IST

NAGPUR: Six farmers ended their lives in the past 24 hours in Vidarbha, a region with the dubious distinction of seeing the most number of farmer deaths by suicide in Maharashtra in the past two years

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ByPradip Kumar Maitra

NAGPUR: Six farmers ended their lives in the past 24 hours in Vidarbha, a region with the dubious distinction of seeing the most number of farmer deaths by suicide in Maharashtra in the past two years.

Of the six farmers who ended their lives, five were from villages in Yavatmal district while one was from a village in Wardha district.

All six men were debt-ridden after unprecedented rains in July and August washed away their crops and they failed to get loans to sow their fields at the start of the kharif season, Kishore Tiwari, chairman of Agriculture Mission of Maharashtra, a state government body, said.

The father of one of the farmers who ended his life by suicide in Yavatmal’s Narsala village on Thursday, said that his son looked after their three-acre agricultural land on which they grew cotton and soybean.

“[My son] approached a couple of money lenders for temporary loans for re-sowing crops. But he could not generate funds and that led him to commit suicide,” the father said.

Amol Yedge, the district collector of Yavatmal, said that in August alone, 51 farmers had died by suicide in the district.

“Our officials are in discussions with distressed farmers to counsel them and prevent such tragedies,” he said. The administration has also initiated awareness campaigns in the district.

Vidarbha, a black soil region spread across eleven districts, including Yavatmal and Wardha, grows cotton and soybean primarily through rain-fed farming. The adjoining Marathwada region, comprising eight districts grows cotton, jawar and soyabean. However, climate-change induced droughts and unseasonal rains over successive years have resulted in a spate of deaths by suicides by farmers, members of their families as well as agricultural labourers, in both regions. Fifteen years ago, the Central government had declared several districts in Vidarbha as suicide-prone. State officials deployed to manage the crisis admit that agricultural income remained low on account of climate-induced debt.

“This year, thousands of hectares of cultivable land were affected following heavy downpour in July end and August, said Tiwari. “The state government and district administration in particular should gear up to cope up with the situation otherwise more distressed farmers may resort to such extreme measures.”

Tiwari said that the state government’s relief package, announced by chief minister Eknath Shinde after a cabinet meeting on August 10, had not reached flood-hit farmers. Shinde announced that the government will offer financial assistance of 13,600 per hectare to farmers affected by heavy rains and floods in various districts.

The Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) revealed that Maharashtra saw the highest number of deaths by suicide of persons engaged in agricultural activities (including agricultural labourers, farmers and cultivators) across the country in 2021.

According to the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, a farmer’s advocacy group that has documented farmer suicide since 2000, 472 farmers in this region have ended their lives since January this year. Last year, the figure was 912.

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