The state government’s special pilot project launched in Yavatmal and Osmanabad in 2015 to check farmers’ suicides, which has tasted considerable success, will be extended across all the 14 agriculturally distressed districts in Vidarbha and Marathwada. This is part of the government’s plan to make Maharashtra zero farmers suicide state on a mission mode in year 2017 and 2018.
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The project titled Baliraj Chetana Abhiyan — which comprises more than 100 schemes for uplift of farmers through a holistic approach of socio-economic development model — will be applied in all the 14 districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada which are both drought prone and have a long history of maximum farm suicides. Apart from these, the government has also urged the district officials to extend the schemes where possible in parts of North Maharashtra and Western Maharashtra to stop farmers from resorting to extreme measures due to the farm crisis.
A senior officer in the government revealed, “The National Crime Records Bureau statistics citing Maharashtra farm suicides at 3000 was during the worst drought crisis in year 2014 and 15. Yet, the data showed that in districts where the policy reforms of the government have been sincerely executed the farmers suicides have declined 50 per cent from 386 to 276 in case of Yavatmal in Vidarbha region”
The government has urged district collectors to replicate the Yavatmal model with some course corrections to adapt to their respective districts to completely stop farmers’ suicides.
The two major steps initiated towards sustainable agriculture is to make every village water neutral through jalyukta shivar project and provide 12 hours of uninterrupted power supply to farmers across the state.
At a meeting, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The government is all set to put the entire agriculture sector on separate solar feeder to provide quality and consistent power supply to farmers in the state. The power department has launched the projects. By 2017 end, it will provide agriculture pump connections to every farmer who demands it within 24 hours.”
According to Kishore Tiwari, who heads the mission to address farmers suicides, “We have to increase credit bracket to facilitate easy access of loans to farmers. Second step is to get them a ready market for their produce and third is to convince them to accept crop change through scientific methods.”