I happened to be at the farm over the weekend, when I took the call from the farmer. He was calling from Maharashtra and when he learnt I was farming here (in the US)- first he was surprised then he got curious and started a barrage of questions
Do American farmers also commit suicide?
Yes, unfortunately. It is not as rampant as it is in India
What problems do they have?
They have the same problems as you do. They don’t get a fair price for their produce. Their subsidies are given to the companies. The crop insurance works for the insurance companies not for the farmers
Farmers here don’t get much help. How about farmers there, don’t they get any help?
The farmers here own anywhere from 50-60 acres to well over 1000 acres. The small farmers own anywhere from 60 to 100 acres.
Really, they own 100 acres and still they are small farmers?
Yes. And they are working alone in the farms, isolated and away from the rest of the community. When they find themselves in trouble there is no helpline for them nor any help coming their way
Do they have water problems?
No. They have plenty of water. The entire farm is connected with drip irrigation.
The farmer went on to talk about how there have been very little to no rains. There is drought and no respite from weather. Yes, there are upcoming elections and so there is some hope that the government will do something.
In some other news about farmers which, by the way, is hard to get these days
Onion prices are on the rise and the government is forced to do something only because of elections. They are now importing onions to flood the market with more onions to bring the price down
As per the Rajasthan State Co-operative Bank Limited (RSCB) website, a total of 20,79,492 farmers are registered for Kharif. But only 13,71,761 farmers got the loans leaving out almost 7 lakh farmers. So far, the disbursed loan amount stands at Rs 28,60.13 crore for this season.
And we have the Finance minister rolling back everything in the budget, announcing major cuts in corporate taxes, having back to back meetings with Corporates, but no such in person meetings with the farmers
The problem of farmer suicides is only getting worse. How can a government attempt to fix the problem when they can’t even acknowledge and face the reality. Ncrb has been shut since 2016, RTI has been muted – how will and who will listen to the farmers.
Are we willing to listen?
Are we willing to question?
Are we willing to do something, just anything?
The author, Suresh Ediga, has been involved in volunteering for more than 18 years now. And during the course of these 18 years, he has taken several projects at an individual level and has been able to implement them successfully.