Farmers’ deaths in Maharashtra: Government apathy

Nagpur: With less than 40 days left for Maharashtra assembly elections, the farmers’ suicide crisis is raising its ugly head once again. Seven farmers committed suicide in the last two days in various parts of Vidarbha region, taking the this year’s toll to 638, an NGO that tracks suicides claimed on Saturday.

Vidarbha is facing a severe drought. Yavatmal district, the epicentre of the farm suicide crisis, is worst-hit with a rainfall deficiency of about 40%. ‘‘The rains in last 10 days brought some hope as it ended a prolonged dry spell. But the damage has already been done.

The unprecedented shortfall in monsoon has led to a large-scale pest attack destroying standing crop of soyabean and cotton, the two main cash crops of the region,’’ said Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari.

‘‘The mealy bug has not spared the high-cost genetically modified Bt cotton seed in Vidarbha this year. More than 90% farmers took to Bt seeds believing the claims of it being safe from pest attacks. But despite farmers spraying pesticide almost on alternative days, the crop has been ruined,’’ Tiwari told TOI from Pandharkawda, a main cotton growing centre in Yavatmal.

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