Suicide heartland farmers in distress again

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Yavatmal:  The Maharashtra Congress chief's constituency, Yavatmal, is seething after a fresh spate of farmer suicides. First cotton proved difficult to maintain, farmers switched to soyabean, and that too has become a burden.

There is now anger with many saying the state Congress president has done almost nothing to address the distressing situation in the region.

"A few days ago, my husband told me he was going to the field. He returned to tell me that the soyabean crop was completely destroyed. I told him God will take care of everything," said Narmada Ghorpade, farm widow.

His wife's assurances didn't help Champat Ghorpade. His soyabean crop completely destroyed, he hanged himself in his verandah even as his family slept inside, afraid to fall into the cycle of debt and distress.

It's not the first suicide from here, but what makes it more shocking is that it comes from a region that has given the Maharashtra Congress party its president.

Congress president Manikrao Thakre comes from a region that has seen the highest number of farm suicides in the country. Even today, Yavatmal continues to top the number of suicides in the cotton belt with close to 200 farmers taking their lives this year alone.

Expectations from Thakre have always been high, expectations on which he won four elections, and then lost badly the last time.

"He has brought no benefits, too busy enjoying his position. This place has become famous as his hometown. Other than that, we've got nothing," said Madhukar Jadhav, a farmer.

The multi-crore farm relief packages, the Congress-NCP alliance claims credit for, have become Darwha's jokes.

"One package offered us bullocks and carts. The carts are here, but no bullocks," said Vijay Ratne, another farmer.

"It's true this has become suicide heartland but what can we do. You can't repay loans, and no one will give you fresh credit. See our fields are completely destroyed. Today people want loans. Who's going to give it? And we take only one crop in a year," said Datta Bagikaar, a farmer.

But the killing fields of white gold forced them to do a re-think. Thousands then turned to soyabean, a crop cheaper to sow and faster to harvest.

Three years later, they see themselves getting sucked into another vicious. Soybean too has become a burden. Shortfall in rains last year had affected the yield. This year's drought has destroyed it completely.

"We have no choice, we can't repay our loans. How will we get our daughters married? We are worried about the future," said Datta Bagikaar, a farmer.

Farmer say a leader's constituency is often favoured in terms of perks and privileges.

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