Debt trap turns death trap for Vidarbha farmers
Mumbai: A mother’s tears, a son’s shaved head are telltale signs that death has struck the household in Vidarbha’s Wardha district.
Kamlabai Bhoyar’s 28-year-old son Umesh committed suicide on November 17. He was worried about the Rs 1.5 lakh loan he’d taken. It’s a double tragedy for Kamlabai, whose older son Vishwas Bhoyar also committed suicide 2 years ago.
Her 5-year-old grandson Sumit is all she has left. But even at the age of 65, her resolve to educate him is strong.
Kamla Bhoyar, Umesh’s Mother, says, “No farming now. Even if I have to wash vessels, I will educate him. I don’t want him to become a farmer.”
Kamlabai may be on her own now but she’s certainly not alone in her plight. In the Raghatate household, a family is trying to move on from the loss of the home’s patriarch Jeevan Raghatate. His 21-year-old son Mayur doesn’t know how to start repaying the 6 lakh rupee loan his father had taken.
There is a sense of hopelessness in every one of these little homes in Vidarbha, where every year the farmer wonders what price he’ll get for his cotton. This year the farmer has seen massive support from the opposition with elections just around the corner.
The state government is yet to announce a bonus even as cotton farmers in Vidarbha continue to commit suicide.
Experts have slammed the government for inconsistent policies on cotton prices.
Chandrakant Wankhade, Senior Journalist & Farmer Activist, says, “When the price is high in the open market, they don’t allow them to make profit. And when there is slowdown, they don’t even protect the farmers.”
The cotton crisis has pushed 123 farmers to suicide in 2011, says the state government, while activists say the number is 672. The statistics belie the human stories of Vidarbha where the future continues to be the dark.