In January-December 2020, about 2,547 farmers ended their lives in Maharashtra while in January-November 2021, 2,489 farmers committed suicides.

The State Revenue Department in the reply given to Mumbai-based RTI activist Jitendra Ghadge informed that in 2020 only 1,110 farmers were eligible for the ex-gratia while in 2021, the number of farmers receiving ex-gratia was 1,207.

In the last two years, the Amravati division in the Vidarbha region reported the highest number of suicides. In 2020 the region reported 1,128 farmer suicides while in 2021, the number of farmer suicide reported was 1,056.

Aurangabad division comprising of Marathwada region reported 773 and 804 farmer suicides in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Konkan division comprising of Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, and Sindhudurg districts reported no farmer suicides in the last two years.

According to the Union government’s data, 2,239 farmers had ended their lives in Maharashtra in 2018 followed by 2,680 farmer suicides in 2019.

Causes for farmer suicides

A study report titled ‘Farmers Suicide in India: Causes and Policy Prescription’ by the government in 2016-17 through the Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru has listed reasons for farmer suicides.

The study concluded that frequent crop failure due to vagaries of monsoon, absence of assured water resources, and attack of pests and diseases are the most important causes of farmers’ distress. The study had made suggestions to address the farmer suicide problems and asked the government to bring individual farmers under the ambit of crop insurance.

The study suggested judicious use of available water, government intervention through MSP covering the cost of production plus reasonable profit margin, and risk hedging through crop and enterprise diversification. Regulation of informal credit market was also suggested.

‘Farmers need freedom’

Shetkari Sanghatana leaders in Maharashtra insist that the farmers need freedom of market and technology to increase their income. The Sanghatana has appealed to the government not to control technology and market and allow farmers to compete with farmers across the world.