Nearly 200,000 farmers committed suicide mostly in India’s cotton-belt region in the last one decade, following are the reasons for their plight -
1) BT Cotton: Genetically modified cotton seeds popularly known as BT cotton cannot be resowed. Which essentially means during failed crops either during floods or drought, a farmer has to buy expensive seeds from seed corporations by taking loans from bank.
2) Credit crisis: Once under debt and paying heavy recurring interest rates on farming loans, these farmers start losing their land to the banks who seal land and other property without thinking about drought situation.
3) Natural Calamities: Calamities not only affects a farmers crop but also kills his secondary source of income like poultry and dairy.
4) Others: Epidemic of pests on crops being grown as monocrop, unsustainable technology and unremunerative prices.
Relief from Government: Prime minister of India Mr. Manmohan Singh after pressure from rural journalists like P Sainath visited Vidarbha region. Consequently the loan on farmers was waived off by the government. But the root cause went unaddressed.
Chetana Vikas and AID: After extensive research and fact findings, AID identified Chetana Vikas as a solution to the problem in Vidarbha region. Chetana Vikas is located in Wardha District of Vidarbha which has one of the highest suicide rates amongst farmers. Chetana Vikas is a NGO which has done extensive work on Organic farming in last 18 years. Chetana Vikas has so far supported 150 villages in the Wardha District.
This project has 2 components:
1. Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management.
2. Through already established Self-Help-Groups (SHGs)
Appendix: Alternative Action Measures by Chetana Vikas
Those taken up in the project by Chetana-Vikas have definitely made some concrete contribution in improving the situation. This would be seen clearly in the accompanying Progress Report. It has been effective at microlevel, with the villagers in the project area.
Moreover, there has been substantial contribution at Macrolevel too. Chetana-Vikas is actively contributing and strengthening various forums, networks, campaigns etc.
Some examples :
1. Climate Change Crisis (CCC) : Contributed in the International Campaign-cum-
Study on People’s Perceptions on CCC, by promoting and participating at National level and local level.
2. Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) for alternative marketing of organic produce. As member of the National Council.
3. Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI). As member of the National Steering Committee and National Management Committee. Also as OFAI’s Technical Resource Centre.
4. International Sustainable Agriculture Network (SUSTAINET). As member of the National Steering Committee.
5. Serving as Resource & Training Centre, for several forums, networks and NGOs, including those like M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) which is founded and headed by Prof. Swaminathan. It may be mentioned here that Prof. M.S.Swaminathan is called the “Father of Green revolution in India”, and is the Chairman of the National Commission on Farmers set up by Government of India. He has been now taking lot of interest, and is active, in Sustainable Agriculture as the Evergreen Revolution in his words.
Chetana-Vikas’s AARC conducted Trainings-of-Trainers (TOTs) for NGOs and Networks covering States of India other than Maharashtra also.
6. Chetana-Vikas’s Alternative Agriculture Resource Centre (AARC) is very extensively, and indepth, visited by activists, volunteers, NGOs, Network representatives, policy makers, scientists, Govt officers, farmers etc.