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600 Farmer Suicides In Marathwada

 

The News

  • According to official figures, nearly 600 farmers in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region have died by suicide between January 1, 2022 and mid-August.
  • Some 547 farmers had died by suicide from January 1 through July, according to the figures received from the divisional commissioner’s office, Aurangabad. Another 37 deaths were registered in August alone, pushing the numbers close to 600.
  • The Aurangabad division, which comprises most of the Marathwada region, had registered 805 farmer suicides over 12 months in 2021.

What is Marathwada?

But Why?

  • The suicides are being seen as a consequence of rains that damaged millions of hectares of agricultural land in July.
  • Excessive rains on July 11 and 12 affected over 100,000 farmers in 24 districts of Marathwada, damaging tur, corn, soyabean, paddy, cotton and banana crops.
  • Agri Activists have blamed government policies to be the cause of the deaths.
  • According to Shetkari Sanghatan, the number of deaths has seen a sharp increase in the past couple of months after the rains washed away the recently sowed plantations.
  • Government policies were to blame for the farmers’ situation, rather than extreme weather events.
    • It is the government that decides the market rates and fails even to meet the Minimum Support Price (MSP). For instance, the government promises to procure Moong dal (green gram) at an MSP of Rs 6,500. But in reality, it is purchased at Rs 4,000. The same goes for other crops.
    • Banks where farmers apply for loans also delay disbursing the money. Farmers need money on time during the sowing season. But banks often delay the payments due to lengthy procedures, forcing the farmers to opt for private loans at interest rate as high as 60%. The money received from the bank after loan approvals only helps to cover the interest incurred.
    • Extreme weather events such as drought, hailstorms and heavy rainfall have added to the suicide rates.

Is the problem endemic to Maharashtra?

  • Seven states in the country account for5% of the farming sector suicides.
  • They are Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Maharashtra shows the highest figures out of these states mainly from Vidharba & Marathwada.
  • Government data and MS Swaminathan Commission report show that marginal farmers with less land holding mostly die by suicide.

The Reasons

  • Rising Input costs
    • Seeds, Fertilizers, Labour, Machinery
  • Lack of timely institutional credit
    • Reduce red tape
  • Lack of awareness
    • Illiteracy & Digital divide
  • Dependency on rain
    • Uncertain Monsoon, Climate change, double whammy of drought & floods
  • Populist & short visioned farm policies
    • Loan waivers, MSP implementation, Reactive price control

What is the solution?

  • Is there a single solution to this problem?
    • Lower agri input costs
    • Institutional Credit
    • Water management
    • Technological agri solutions
    • Collectivization among Small/Marginal farmers
    • Alternate income sources for Small/Marginal farmers
    • Rural counselling centres – NGO/SHG/Community led
  • Avoid one size fits all solutions and develop tailored region specific packages/plans.

Question

  • Discuss the various socio-economic factors that have caused distress in different agricultural belts of India. Also, suggest measures to reduce the burden on our farmers.

 

 

 

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