Govt should spend on awareness campaigns to prevent farmers' suicides in India. 3000 dead in three years.

Lack of awareness in farmers to government advisory centers leads to high incidence of crop failure and thus lead to suicides.

Maharashtra is by far the epicentre of the crisis, with over 10,000 recorded farm suicides between 2011 and 2013. This year, the Marathwada region alone has seen over 200 farmer suicides in just three months.

According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, the total of number of suicides committed by farmers for agrarian reasons in the last three years stands at 3313.
The five States — Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala — accounted for 3301 of them.


As per reports of crisis in maharashtra,  70 per cent of all farmland in Marathwada would register a failed kharif crop this year, reckon state government officials. While the region usually receives an average 780 millimetres of rainfall through the monsoon season, cumulative precipitation until now has been 258.9 mm.

Crop advisories from state agencies and agricultural varsities to tackle extreme weather events appear to have only limited impact. 

At Ambejogai’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra, senior scientist and soil technology specialist CM Tripathi claims about 25,000 farmers in Beed to be registered with the centre for receiving SMS and voice-message advisories, apart from 400 on WhatsApp. “Yet, in spite of our advisories, there are farmers sowing cotton or soyabean at this stage, encouraged by the mild showers in August,” he says. 

Does the current situation owe itself to farmers moving away from subsistence crops such as jowar (sorghum) to soyabean and cotton? B Venkateswarlu, vice-chancellor of the Marathwada Agricultural University at Parbhani, believes it is unfair to blame farmers for the changed cropping patterns, as they only respond to market signals and there is also falling demand for jowar. Besides, while jowar can withstand dry spells, 40-45 days of no rains would wither any crop, including sorghum. “This isn’t a normal year or even a sub-normal year. It is a bad year,” he points out. His university is advising farmers to go in for an early rabi season, and sowing of safflower on fallow lands. Venkateswarlu also expects acreage under rabi jowar to increase — assuming there are rains in September. Overall, this has been a catastrophic year for Marathwada, sparing not even crops having some irrigation cover. By modest estimates, about 30 per cent of the region’s horticulture crop would be lost from this year’s drought. The damage is not less to the 2,30,000 hectares under sugarcane, a significant part of which is irrigated — this time using costly water from tankers.

 The Maharashtra government is now contemplating disallowing mills in Marathwada to even start crushing operations from next month— since that itself requires water. In 2014-15, the state spent Rs 4,336 crore on financial assistance for Marathwada’s farmers. That bill could balloon further this year. More incalculable is the human loss and damage to farmer morale. If 2014 recorded 574 farmer suicides in the region, the tally for 2015 has already touched 628. As Shahdev says of his father, “They don’t tell their families anything. They just go.” Leaving behind, of course, another year of drought, another destroyed crop, more failed investments and ever larger loans.


Marathwada: India’s emerging farmer suicide capital :As many parts of the country reel under a back-to-back drought, Kavitha Iyer reports from the region that’s at the centre of the crisis.