Maharashtra reports 830 farmer suicides in four months

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June 03, 2023 MUMBAI: As many as 830 suicides by farmers have been reported in the state in the four-month span between January and April this year. This means around 7 farmers killed themselves every single day during this period.
While the count is lower than the same period last year when it was 945, the arid region of Marathwada has reported a higher figure. The number of cases in Marathwada rose from 280 in 2022 to 305 in 2023.
Of the 830 suicides reported, 283 cases were considered eligible for the state government's compensation. The government provides compensation only in cases linked to indebtedness. A sum of Rs 1 lakh is given to the family. Data shows that payment has been completed in only 12% of the cases.
Kisan Sabha leader Ajit Navale says international prices of cash crops like cotton and soyabean which are cultivated in Marathwada and Vidarbha have been higher than the minimum support price (MSP) this year. This has helped farmers and perhaps reduced the distress in the first four months of the calendar year compared to 2022.
However, he said the government needs to do more to control export and import of the key cash crops. "If the government regulated the export and import of soyabean and cotton better than the suicide figures may have reduced even further," said Navale.
Factors that may have impacted Marathwada more severely are lack of adequate representation in the farm loan waiver scheme and compensation in the crop insurance scheme. "In both the farm loan waiver scheme and crop insurance scheme, Marathwada farmers faced a disadvantage," says Navale.
Another key issue is the high cost of inputs for agriculture. "This has been one of the main reasons why farmers face indebtedness and the government needs to bring down the cost of agricultural inputs," says Navale.
Farmer leader Vijay Jawandhia says the prices of crops like cotton are now falling and the year ahead could be stressful for the state's farmers. "The suicide rate is just the tip of the iceberg. Just because the farmer is alive does not mean he is living a good life. Prices of cotton have fallen from Rs 12,000 per quintal last year to just Rs 7,000 per quintal this year." He suggests that the government raise import duties on cotton imports and provide an export subsidy.

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