Amid rising farmers’ suicides, the Shinde Fadnavis government on Tuesday announced that it will soon release a comprehensive policy to curb it and increase efforts to boost agriculture development and allied activities. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde appealed to the farmers not to take such an extreme threat seps but weather all odds.
He assured the government’s support by implementing a slew of programmes to increase agricultural production, crop diversification, strengthening of the agricultural universities, research and development, farm to market initiative and availability of funds.
‘’The government is concerned about the farmers suicides and it will soon bring in a policy to address this issue,’’ said Shinde though he did not divulge further details.
Shinde’s announcement came after the leader of opposition in the state assembly Ajit Pawar claimed that as many as 137 farmers have died by committing suicide in the state since the Shinde-Fadnavis government came to power. Instead of tackling this crisis and the flood situation, ministers were busy patting their own backs, he said. He lashed out at the government after a farmer from committed suicide after putting live electricity wire in his mouth as he was unable to repay the debt and bear the burden any more.
Further, the state government’s move is important as distress among farmers in the state pushed 2,498 of them committed suicide during January to November 2021. In 2020, 2,547 debt-ridden farmers ended their lives. This is despite the crop waiver schemes announced by the successive governments in the state.
According to the agriculture expert from Gondia district in the Vidarbha region Vikas Ade, the farmer is faced with yield, price, credit, income and weather uncertainties. The way out is to merge bold public policy initiatives with civil society engagement. ‘
’The rain dependent cotton growing farmers of Maharashtra are faced with declining profitability because of dumping in the global market by the US, low import tariffs, failure of the Monopoly Cotton Procurement Scheme and withdrawal of the state are resulting in declining public investment in agriculture, poor government agriculture extension services and the diminishing role of formal credit institutions,’’he said.
Further, the Kisan Sabha Maharashtra secretary Ajit Nawale suggested that the state government should implement 100 odd recommendations made by the Swaminathan Commission in the state and give direction to the country. ‘’The government will have to keep a close vigil on the functioning of the crop insurance companies in order to get the compensation to the farmers without any delays. The government should introduce fair and remunerative price for milk and provide financial assistance to the farmers hit by the nature’s fury in excess of the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) norms,‘’ he suggested.
The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana founder and former MP Raju Shetti said the government should identify the farmers in the grip of unregistered private moneylenders and introduce one time settlement scheme for the repayment of loans taken from them at higher interest rate. This is necessitated that such farmers are not entitled for benefits under the crop loan waiver scheme. ‘
’The government should play a pro active role in digging a well or bore well and provide solar motor pump. Besides, the farmers in addition to the farming should get cows or buffalos so that they could add to their income,’’ he noted.