The combined rural suicide tally of six cotton-producing districts in Vidarbha, officially called as ‘farmers’ suicides’, has continually declined since 2015 when it had suddenly jumped to 1,348 from 805 in 2013.
Till December 29 this year, 1,102 suicides have been registered officially as per figures tabulated by the state government task force Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawlamban Mission.
The six districts known for farmers’ suicide are Wardha, Yavatmal, Amravati, Akola, Washim and Buldana.
The only district which is an exception to this downward trend is Buldana, whose tally has gone up successively since 2013. From 111 that year, it touched its highest peak of 312 in 2017. This year, so far, it recorded 304 suicides. It is relevant to note here that Buldana sits next door to the drought-prone Marathwada district.
Meanwhile, Yavatmal, known as Vidarbha’s suicide capital, is registering a declining trend, from 386 in 2015 to 254 this year till December 29. Another significant drop from 2016 had been in Amravati district, dropping to 227 from 349.
Clearly, minus Buldana, the drop would appear more significant – from 1,237 in 2015 to 790 this year in the other five districts.
Last year, the six districts had registered 1,176 suicides. This year’s drop comes against the backdrop of severe drought in many parts of these districts, particularity in Amravati, Buldana and Yavatmal.
The state government has been faithfully recording farmers’ suicide tally since 2006 following intensive media coverage of farmers’ suicides in the region. The Indian Express first reported this trend in 2002.
The highest peak of 1,449 suicides was registered in 2006. Coinciding with the huge government focus on the region in terms of several interventionist schemes, the suicide curve had started dipping since then, slipping to 805 in 2013.
The most noteworthy drop in this period was in case of Buldana and Yavatmal districts. In 2006, Buldana had recorded 306 suicides but the same came down to 111 in 2013. In Yavatmal, comparitive figures were 360 and 231.
But in 2014, it again climbed to 964 followed by 1,348 in 2015. The increase was highest in Yavatmal, which had recorded its highest ever tally of 386 in 2015. However, the toll dropped in 2016 and 2017, falling to 235 and 1,176, respectively.