1,254 farm suicides since Maharashtra declared loan waiver

By Times Of India on 09 Nov 2017 | read
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MUMBAI: Maharashtra has seen as many as 1,254 farmer suicides between June and October, five months into the farm loan waiver, official data shows. Only a small portion of the waiver has been extended to farmers so far, with the bulk of accounts still being verified.

More than half these cases - 691farm suicides - in these five months are from Vidarbha, the region from which chief minister Devendra Fadnavis hails. The area has also been separately impacted by pesticide-related fatalities in the farming community .

Overall, the state has seen 2,414 cases of farmer suicides in the ten-month span between January and October this year. This is just 7% less than the 2,604 cases reported in the same period in 2016.

However, two key regions have seen higher farmer suicides than in 2016. The sugar belt of Western Maharashtra has reported 80 cases during this period, compared to 68 in 2016.And the vulnerable cotton growing Amravati division witnessed 907 farmer suicides between January and September compared to 892 in 2016.The five districts of Amravati division, which include Yavatmal, are among the most vulnerable in the country's farmer suicide map.

Overall, Vidarbha reported 1,133 cases of farmer suicides between January and October, almost on a par with 1,203 during this span last year.The arid Marathwada region reported 789 cases compared to 907 during this period last year. North Maharashtra reported 408 cases compared to 426 last year. The Konkan belt reported 3 cases, while last year there were none.

The state government maintains the loan waiver will not bring down the number of farmer suicides and the solution is increasing investment in agriculture. However, farmers groups say that one of their problems is the low agricultural prices, an issue which the state government has not addressed.

The prices for agriculture produce are even lower than last year, says Ajit Navale of the Kisan Sabha. "Last year the market price for a quintal of cotton was Rs5,400. This year, it is Rs3,400. The government has announced a minimum support price of Rs4,320 but barely anything is being procured," he says.

The crash in soyabean prices and the slow pace of government procurement is another looming crisis, they said. This kharif season, 31 lakh tons of soyabean has been produced, but the government plans to procure very little of this, he claims.

On November 10, farmer groups plan to agitate on the issue of the farm loan waiver and dump agricultural produce and milk outside district government offices.