State Agriculture Minister Ramkrishna Kusmaria found himself in a spot after making controversial statements over the rising farmer suicides in Madhya Pradesh.

“The farmers are paying for their past sins of making fertile land barren by excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides,” the Minister said on Wednesday.

Mr. Kusmaria retracted the statements later in the night. Madhya Pradesh has seen seven farmer suicides and several suicide attempts in less than one month starting December 15.

While the State government's official stand was that the suicides were committed due to personal reasons and not due to debt, the Minister's statement toed a different line.

Last year, Mr. Kusmaria had blamed Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) for crop failures in Damoh district. He claimed that he spotted a UFO in Sukha village of the district and took photographs of it.

Mr. Kusmaria has been a vocal supporter of organic agriculture and has opposed genetically modified crops in the State.

The Congress State unit has condemned the statements of the Minister as being insensitive and asked for his resignation.