The Marathwada region of Maharashtra reported 1,023 farmer suicides in 2022, up from 887 in the previous year, an official from the divisional commissioner’s office said. The region comprising Jalna, Aurangabad, Parbhani, Hingoli, Nanded, Latur, Osmanabad and Beed districts had recorded one farmer suicide in 2001.
So far, 10,431 growers have ended their lives in the region's eight districts since 2001, show figures from the divisional commissionerate. Between 2001 and 2010, the maximum 379 farmer suicides were reported in 2006. In the 2011-2020 decade, the highest number of farmer suicides at 1,133 was reported in 2015, the data showed.
Out of the 10,431 farmers who ended their lives since 2001, 7,605 had received aid as per the government norms, an official said. Over the past few years, the region has seen drought-like conditions in some years and excess rain in others, which has compounded the difficulties of crop growers, according to activists and officials.
The irrigation network in the region is also not being used to its full capacity, they said. Vinayak Hegana, who runs a counselling centre for farmers in Osmanabad in collaboration with the district administration, stressed on the need to work on a micro level while doing an analysis of farmer suicides.
“Policies are being prepared at the top, but the implementation on the ground can be improved,” he said. Earlier, most farmer suicides were reported between July and October but the pattern has changed. “We see the numbers growing between December and June,” he said.
On the policies to curb the numbers, Hegana said, “Finding lacunas in these policies and making them better should be a continuous process and there should be a group of people who can work on this.” When contacted, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Ambadas Danve said, “Though there have been multiple loan waivers for farmers, the figures (of suicide) are growing. When we waive their loans, we also have to see to it that their crop yield also gets good returns.”
Danve also highlighted the concerns over substandard seeds and fertilisers being sold at high rates. “These are harmful to the farming sector,” he said. “The quality of these farm resources should be up to the mark, which is most important,” Danve added. Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Abdul Sattar could not be contacted for response in the matter.