MUMBAI: Maharashtra reported 2,270 cases of farmer suicides in the 11 months between January and November 2020. This is marginally lower than the 2,566 cases reported during the same time period in 2019.
Of the 2,270 cases, only 920 or 40.5% were declared eligible for compensation, according to revenue department data collected by RTI activist Jeetendra Ghadge. The government awards compensation only in cases which it concludes are linked to indebtedness. Their kin receive compensation worth Rs1 lakh.
According to the data, more than half the farmer suicides are from the cotton belt of Vidarbha which reported 1,230 farmer suicides. The arid belt of Marathwada reported 693 cases of farmer suicides, while North Maharashtra had 322 cases. The sugar belt of Western Maharashtra had 25 cases, while Konkan reported none. Although agriculture was considered the silver lining for the economy during the lockdown, farmers found it difficult to get good prices for their produce, says Ajit Navale from the Kisan Sabha.
“Government procurement was higher than earlier years but many were not able to avail of it. As a result, they sold at lower prices to local traders,” he said. He said many farmers did not got the benefit of the Centre’s Krishi Samman Yojana and the state’s loan waiver scheme. The availability of spurious seeds had also caused problems, he said. “Both these schemes would have been helpful for farmers during the outbreak. For the loan waiver, the state should re-examine cases of farmers who were declared ineligible,” he said.