Updated: November 12, 2015 6:58:03 am
With 2,016 reported cases of farmers committing suicide till the end of September, the current year has earned the dubious distinction of seeing the highest number of farmer suicides in the past five years. The state government has rolled out a special mission to control the crisis, but agricultural experts and farmer leaders have called for an intensive study into the issue.
Over the past few years, Maharashtra has been topping the list of states in the country when it comes to farmers committing suicide. Frequent droughts, crop failure, non-realisation of prices for agricultural products are some of the reasons which drive farmers to take the extreme step. In 2009, the state had seen 1,600 cases of farmer suicides which rose to 1,740 in 2010. The next three years had seen relatively better rains and subsequently the number of farmer suicides had seen a dip. 2011 had recorded 1,495 cases, 2012 and 2013 had seen 1,467 and 1,298 cases of farmer suicides, respectively. The number of farmer suicides rose to 1,949 in 2014 and this year the figure has touched 2,016 by September end, according to data released by the state government.
Vidharbha and Marathwada have reported maximum number of suicides in the state. Till September this year, Vidharbha has seen 1,010 cases of farmer suicides and Marathwada has recorded 695 cases. A total of 19 districts come under the above two regions. Districts of Yavatmal, Osmananbad, Beed have seen maximum concentration of such cases. There had been a spurt in cases of farmer suicides in March, April and May. August and September had also seen a rise in the number of cases.
Swabhimani Paksha MP Raju Shetti said this trend was due to the failure of the crop cycles of last year and this year. “Maharashtra has been seeing drought and unseasonal rains over the past two years. Early this year, much of the crop had been wasted due to sudden rains. The rains had ruined the Rabi crop and lack of timely intervention by the state government had resulted in a rise in the figure in May,” he said.
He said the monsoons had started on the right note and farmers had taken up massive plantation, but the subsequent lack of rains had prompted re-sowing in over 20-lakh hectare in the state. “The second spurt in suicide cases started August onwards as the withdrawal of monsoons also failed to bring adequate rains,” he said.
Activist Kishore Tiwari who is heading the state government’s mission to reduce farm distress said, “The problem has got acute given that proper attention was not paid to it in the past 15 years. The government machinery which was supposed to be looking into the matter has been riddled with corruption,” he said. Tiwari said the government had identified families in distress and the administration had been asked to provide all possible help to them under the distress management programme. “Medical, educational and other help are being provided to over 6 million families in the 14 suicide-prone districts. We hope the trend will go down in the months to come,” he said.
Shetti said in order to solve the problem of farmer’s suicide once and for all, a holistic approach had to be taken. He said that would involve assuring competitive pricing of agricultural produce and access to market. “The start of the farm land crisis is the failure of the farmer to realise competitive pricing for his produce. With input costs going up, the cost of the output should commensurate that. Once this is assured, the farmer will be able to take care of adverse climate also,” he said.
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