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Yavatmal: District of Farmers' Suicide
|by Prof. Madhav Sarkunde|
Yavatmal is one of 35 districts in Maharashtra state in Indian subcontinent. It is located in the Vidarbha region, in the east-central part of the state. By the time of British rule, its head quarter was at Wani called Wun by then; now it is shifted to Yavatmal. This district is tribal dominated one. According to the 2011 census, total population of this district is 2,772,348 inclusive of 469,000 tribal populations. This district is known as a cotton district as most of the farmers here are cotton growers. In other words, cotton is the main crop of every farmer; be it a marginal or a landlord.
Why do farmers here love to raise the crop of cotton in preference to other crops? It has also an ancient history. There is a town know as Kalamb which is historically famous for the ancient Ganapati Temple. It is said that here lived Risi Gruhtsmad (Hindu Sage) who invented cotton for the first time and since then on; farmers in this region began to sow cotton.That tradition continues even today. But in recent times cotton farming has been suffering a lot due to irregular rainfall. As this district happens to be in a hilly area, irrigation facilities are not available as it should be. Majority of the crops are taken on the monsoon rain. But for last ten years drastic changes came in market economy. Multi-national companies spread their tentacles even to this remote and backward district. Raymond has started a textiles mill in collaboration of Germen in Yavatmal. Thus a sharp competition set in cotton market.The old agriculture system is totally replaced by new types of seeds, fertilizes and insecticides. Even brokers and middlemen have become active to exploit this situation.
In such situation, farmers have to keep up with changing times. So they have to switch over to hybridized seeds, have to use chemical fertilizers instead of manures and spray pesticide and insecticides. Even the old technique of threshing has been replaced by threshers for which they have to pay at a certain rate. As a result, the farmers have to keep running capital. Those farmers who are well-to-do can manage expenditures over the changed agriculture activities. But those who are marginal or poor cannot do it. They have to approach to various finance agencies for loans. Sometimes they take money from private moneylenders at exorbitant rate of interest. But the irony is that many of them cannot liquidate the debts. So they have to sell their property to clear the loan. The private loan sharks and sometimes the bank managers pressurize these farmers to pay back the money they have taken on a written bond. Sometimes the torture from the agencies is quite unbearable. The poor farmer finds no way out from the vicious circle. To save him from being shamed frequently, He commits suicide .Caught in such critical condition; thousands of Indian farmers are killing themselves every year. To specify, Yavatmal district is number one district as far as farmers’suicides are concerned. Total number of farmers who committed suicide from the year 2000 to 2013 in this district is 2837. So Yavatmal hit almost all media in India and beyond.This district is known a suicide district. Reading news or viewing episodes on national and international TV channels, many social workers, different government agencies, and some foreign press reporters visited this district.
In the month of November, two foreigners, one man from Spain and one lady from Greek had come here with special intention of making documentary film on farmer suicide in Yavatmal district. Their names were Rodrigo Hernandez and Elpida respectively. They had come here via Kolkata through Ruby Membrom and her husband. One Mithun Pramanik had also accompanied them. They had stayed here for a fortnight. I was their interpreter. I helped them every possible way. Also Anand Kasambe who is a TV reporter helped them considerably. We visited many villages of Yavatmal district, Took interviews of wives of those farmers who committed suicide. We faced terrible difficulties in this mission. One evening we had gone to Bothbodan village where highest suicide case took place. A ruffian villager had attacked us in drunken stupor. We had to escape from the place somehow. Against all odds, we have accomplished our job. Now the documentary is ready. It is also relayed by Telesure –the Spain television company. Really, I will remember this occasion forever because I could do something for farmers in my district.
Image by the author.
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Comments on this Article
08/23/2019 13:03 PM
12/18/2015 13:21 PM
Ganesh L Rathod
11/04/2015 09:01 AM
05/25/2015 18:36 PM
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