With the highest number of farmer suicides recorded in the year 2013, Maharashtra continues to paint a dismal picture on the agrarian front with over 3,000 farmers taking their lives.
According to a recent report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 3,146 farmers killed themselves in the state in 2013.
Maharashtra repeated this performance despite the state registering 640 less farm suicides than 2012.
According to NCRB data, over 60,000 farmers have killed themselves in the state since 1995.
The Vidarbha region of the state, once considered the epicentre of the farmers’ suicide in the country, recorded 942 suicide in 2013, claims the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers’ advocacy group working in Vidarbha.
“Over the last few years, the rest of Maharashtra region witnessed more farmers’ suicide than Vidarbha. Last year also Vidarbha had witnessed 965 suicides and rest of the Maharashtra had higher figures,” said Mr. Kishor Tiwari, president of the VJAS.
Mr. Gajanan Ahmadbadkar of Shetkari Sanghatana (Farmers’ organization) too believed that the Marathwada (central Maharashtra) region in the state witnessed more suicides than Vidarbha in the recent years.
“Marathwada witnessed drought a year ago and heavy rains last year contributing to the woes of farmers and driving them towards suicide,” said Mr. Ahmadbadkar.
Mr.Tiwari thinks that the lack of farmers’ advocacy group and farmers’ organizations in Marathwada is the “main reason for the plight of farmers’ of this region being ignored.”
“We have been keeping the records of suicides in Vidarbha and have been raising the issue, but Marathwada farmers have no such platforms to voice their concerns,” said the VJAC president who also blames “lack of proper irrigation facilities in the state and faulty credit system” for higher number of suicides.
“Government should give proper rate to cash crops and wave off all the debt of the farmers. Otherwise, the farmers’ suicide will increase double fold in the coming years,” cautioned Mr. Tiwari.
When asked about the expectations from the new government and its first budget, the activist said the Minimum Support Price (MSP) as per the formula given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which included “cultivation plus investment plus 50 percent profit” should be implemented in the budget and proper credit system should be put in place for the farmers.