In Mahatma Gandhi’s India, 1, 66,394 farmers committed suicide,
which is an extreme expression of distress, from 1997 to 2006.
Maximum number of suicides were recorded from Vidarbha Region of
Maharashtra State, where 70 % population is under a terrible Agrarian Crisis.
MOFF firmly believes, that, the only factor which the farmers can control,
is to reduce the cost of cultivation. They can neither control the Government
Policies nor the market forces or the climatic changes e.g. rain required for
farming. In Vidarbha, last 20 years, there has been a historical disregard
to the Constitutional Provisions for appropriate investments. Pathetic
infrastructure & the withdrawal of the Cotton Monopoly Scheme by the
Government of Maharashtra have added to the rural distress. There has been
a massive Irrigation backlog & the Credit Policy is far from being farmer-friendly.
It seems noting went right for Vidarbha, which was once called the Agricultural Gold Mine.
Cotton, Soybean, Redgram, Sorghum, Oilseeds & Oranges are the major crops
of Vidarbha. The distress of the farming family is rooted in many factors,
like inequality, social disruption, rapidly changing weather patterns leading
to water scarcity, failure of the Government policies & an extremely corrupt
leadership at the highest level, as also the decayed administrative / extension
machinery. Last 20 years or so almost every Government Scheme has became a scam or
Farmers, especially cotton growers in the Vidarbha region of the Maharashtra
State have gone on suicide spree with 1,000 cases during 2001 to 2005, almost
10 times the rate 10 years ago. Such rising distress is mainly due to indebtedness
amongst cotton farmers owing to :
1. Reduced income as productivity has reduced by 50%.
2. Price is nearly constant for 10 years, due to imports & over production.
3. Input (chemical fertilizers, pesticides, power, hybrid seeds.) cost has risen by 2-3 times
4. Lack of alternate source of income such as jobs
5. Monocropping patterns, prone to massive pest attacks etc.
Six districts in Vidarbha (Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Wardha, Washim & Yavatmal)
are worst affected, accounting for nearly 62 % of the suicides in the state. Recent
survey by the Government indicated that nearly 8.25 lakh i.e. 50 % of the 17 lakh
(1.7 million) farming families in the 7,800 villages of the six districts are indebted.
Of these 4 lakh are highly distressed.
The government announced in January 2005 a relief package to waive loan partly
& interest rates, but still the suicide rate had grown to 745 in just 6 months.
Also, such rescheduling of the loans can be a superficial or a temporary medicine,
but treatment should actually alleviate the need for loan by reducing costs, which
increases savings & raising income per hectare. The demand to raise price to the farm
produce is ignored deliberately for the last 35 years.