Farmer Suicides in Maharashtra<br /> An Overview <br />
History<br /><ul><li>In the 1990s India woke up to a spate of farmer suicides.
The first state where suicides were reported was Maharashtra. Soon newspapers began to report similar occurrences from Andhra Pradesh.
In the beginning it was believed that most of the suicides were happening among the cotton growers, especially those from Vidarbha.
A look at the figures given out by the State Crime Records Bureau, however, was sufficient to indicate that it was not just the cotton farmer but farmers as a professional category were suffering. </li></li></ul><li>Farmer Suicides - An issue of great concern<br />In recent years, suicide has been spreading like an epidemic amongst farmers in India suffering from debt and crop failure. For example, in 2006 in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, there were 1,044 reported suicides — one suicide every eight hours. Increasing incidence of farmer suicides is an issue of great concern to all. It cannot be solved without knowing the various reasons behind it. Many schemes and projects have been stated by the government to control further suicides but it didn’t help a lot. Deep study is required to control it.<br />
Other reasons for suicides<br />Most of the suicides were because of combination of more than one factor.<br />
Reasons for Suicides in Six Districts of Vidarbha in five years<br />
Crop Failure<br />Crop failure is another main reason for farmers to commit suicide. Following are the various reasons of crop failure:-<br /><ul><li>Disruption in regular rainfall cycle since 2001. Long dry spells, deficient monsoon.
Yield limited by rain, but regular rise in cost of input lowered margin of profit.
Volatility in market price further lowered return.</li></li></ul><li>What happens to the families after a farmer commits suicide?<br /><ul><li>Farms are confiscated due to inability to pay back high interest loans.
Harassment of the family by corrupt moneylenders.
Widows burdened with the new responsibility as the sole breadwinner.
Children sometimes lose both parents to suicide. Forcing their education to a halt, especially if they have to work in order to provide for their needs.</li></li></ul><li>Facts and Figures<br />
Total number of suicide cases and eligible cases<br />
The number of famers committing suicide is staggering<br /><ul><li>More than 100,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997.
86.5 percent of farmers who took their own lives were financially indebted.
In this state alone there are almost 2 suicides a day.
According to a study by the government of Maharashtra, almost 6 in 10 of those who kill themselves had debts between $110 and $550. </li></li></ul><li>Govt. Schemes<br />
Shetkari Bazaar<br />The govt. of Maharashtra has decided to set up shetkari bazaars in the state. Following are the objectives of shetkari bazaar : -<br /><ul><li>To help farmers to get the reasonable rates to their produce.
To benefit consumers by giving them fresh produce at reasonable prices.
Immediate value realization of the produce to the farmers without any deductions.
To provide produce in appropriate weights and measures to consumer.
To bring Producers and Consumers together to avoid chain of middlemen.</li></li></ul><li>Reasons for failure of Govt. schemes<br /><ul><li>Farmers' demands were not taken into count while preparing the relief package. Neither were civil society organizations, local government bodies, panchayats etc consulted.
The relief packages were mostly mixtureof existing schemes. Apart from the farmer helpline and the direct financial assistance, there was scarcely anything new being offered.
The farmer helpline did not give any substantial help to farmers.
The basis for selection of beneficiaries under the assistance scheme was not well-defined. Also, type of assistance to be given led to problems like a farmer needing a pair of bullocks getting a pump set and vice versa.
Awareness regarding the package was also low.</li></li></ul><li>Amma – a helping hand to farmers in distress<br />
“ The problem cannot be solved through economic packages alone. What is needed is social and spiritual interventions so that the farmers realize that suicide is not the way out…they should understand that they need to develop self confidence. The future generation should have the mental strength to face life's challenges.”<br /> - Amma, March 2007<br />On 27 September 2007, the Ashram inaugurated two programs aiming at fighting the problem: Vidyamritam and Amrita SREE. <br />
Amrita SREE (Self Reliance Education and Employment) <br /><ul><li>Free vocational training to 25,000 groups of women from impoverished agricultural families.
After completion of their training, the women are given the necessary start-up capital to begin small, home-based businesses.
Financial counseling provided in order to prepare. </li></li></ul><li>Vidyamritam – Educational Scholarships<br /><ul><li>Initially, MAM planned to provide full scholarships to 30,000 children (ages 10 to 15) of farmers living below the poverty line.
Due to the number of unanticipated applications received, the MAM pledged to sponsor the education of 100,000 children all over India.
Conducting awareness campaigns, special advanced education camps, and symposius on environmental prevention. </li></li></ul><li>Unity and compassion on a world scale<br />“In truth, the situation is worse than a third world war. If it were war, there would be instant death—not this long, drawn out suffering. Rectifying the situation is a Himalayan task. Only if we generate love and compassion in our hearts and come together as one can we hope to make a change.”<br /> - Amma<br />
Working together to solve the crisis<br /><ul><li>Social support provides a buffering effect for stress.
The greater the support from friends, family, local communities, national policies and society as a whole, the less impact stress will have on individuals and families.
Everyone who eats has a stake in small farmers' well-being.
It is crucial for governments and NGOs to work together, on a local, national and global level, to address and solve this critical issue.</li></li></ul><li>Thank You<br />