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Mumbai: As India marked its 76th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated the nation’s significant agricultural growth over the past nine years. However, the grim reality in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra tells a different story.
In just 48 hours, five farmers from the Yavatmal district took their own lives due to financial hardships and crop failures. Manoj Rathod (35) from the village of Yerad near Yavatmal was one such farmer who succumbed to the pressures of an economic crisis. Similarly, on August 14th, Karnu Kinake (51) from village Tembhi, a tribal farmer, ended his life after wild animals destroyed his crops.
This tragic pattern continued with Shalu Pawar (42) from village UmarVihir, Namdeo Waghmare (45) from village Tivrang, and Ramrav Rathod (42) from village Lohara near Yavatmal. Another farmer from the village Shirala in Amaravati district also took his life due to overwhelming debt and crop failure.
This year, the Vidarbha region has witnessed a staggering 1,565 farmer suicides, the highest in the last 25 years. Kishore Tiwari, a veteran farm activist who has been monitoring these tragic incidents since 1997, stated, “As the core issues regarding Cost, Crop, and Credit are not addressed by the union government, the innocent killing of Maharashtra farmers continues. Relief packages have failed to revive the collapsed rural economy of Vidarbha, primarily due to political inertia and rampant corruption.”
Tiwari further highlighted the challenges faced by the region, noting, “The primary cash crop, cotton, is in low demand, leading to an economic standstill. Rising input costs and inadequate credit from PSU banks have exacerbated the crisis. The government’s inability to promote sustainable food pulses and oilseed crops, coupled with global climate change, are significant contributors to the ongoing agrarian crisis.”
With daily reports of farmer suicides in the Vidarbha region, the national vision of a 5 trillion economy seems distant. Farm activists are now urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally visit Vidarbha and address the core issues driving these tragic incidents.