Farmers’ deaths in Maharashtra: Government apathySeptember 7, 2009 — Colrama Nagpur: With less than 40 days left for Maharashtra assembly elections, the farmers’ suicide crisis is raising its ugly head once again. Seven farmers committed suicide in the last two days in various parts of Vidarbha region, taking the this year’s toll to 638, an NGO that tracks suicides claimed on Saturday.Vidarbha is facing a severe drought. Yavatmal district, the epicentre of the farm suicide crisis, is worst-hit with a rainfall deficiency of about 40%. ‘‘The rains in last 10 days brought some hope as it ended a prolonged dry spell. But the damage has already been done.The unprecedented shortfall in monsoon has led to a large-scale pest attack destroying standing crop of soyabean and cotton, the two main cash crops of the region,’’ said Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari.‘‘The mealy bug has not spared the high-cost genetically modified Bt cotton seed in Vidarbha this year. More than 90% farmers took to Bt seeds believing the claims of it being safe from pest attacks. But despite farmers spraying pesticide almost on alternative days, the crop has been ruined,’’ a main cotton growing centre in Yavatmal.
The statistics are staggering. From 1998 to 2006, over 100,000 farmers have committed suicides. In Vidarbha, 3,000 farmers have taken their lives in the 1999-2006 period. Since June 2005, 2-3 farmers have been committing suicides every day.Yet you wouldn’t know that from the Indian media. Reports of farmer suicides and protests do appear in fits and spurts, but most of the media appears focused on the glitzy malls, the phoren fast-food chains, the luxury cars, the call centers and the hip lifestyles o the rich and famous. So what’s going on here? The farming crisis did not happen in a day,