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Telangana farmers left to fend for themselves

New state goes to polls but farmers immersed in debt due to crop failure see little hope.

Last updated: 30 Apr 2014 05:04
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Dathaipally, Nalgonda District, Telangana - On April 30, the newly announced state of Telangana, which was carved out of Andhra Pradesh state, will vote for the very first time to send its own representatives to Parliament.

The road ahead for the new administration will be particularly challenging in the state that is facing agrarian crisis. 

Every 12 hours, a farmer commits suicide in India. Telangana claims the highest number of such victims with more than 2,000 cases reported over the last year alone.

 

The startling statistic reflects the fragility of the agrarian community living in one of the sparsest regions of India, where lack of rainfall and crop failure can become the difference between a profitable yield and absolute bankruptcy.

“I had no idea that he was so deep in debt until after his suicide. I have been deserted with two children and no way out,” Lavanya Rachamalla told Al Jazeera.

The desperation and weariness are evident on the face of the 22-year-old widow who has been battling for government compensation since her husband's demise in 2012. But, this has not stopped the private lenders from knocking on her door on a weekly basis.

The ruling Congress party government identified 31 suicide prone districts in Andhra Pradesh, a majority of which lie in Telangana.

Due to the lack of government support in the form of financing and standardisation of agricultural practises, farmers are left on their own and often fall prey to fraudulent purchases such as expensive and fake seeds that are distributed in the market as being hybrid variety and of high yield quality.

Farmers also borrow heavily from private lenders at high interest rates at the beginning of each season to cultivate cash crops, especially cotton, due to lack of government lending schemes.

Lack of sustainable irrigation methods have exacerbated the unpredictability of crop yield. A combination of factors has made livelihood a constant struggle for the farmers in the region.

Lavanya's husband, also a farmer, had borrowed heavily to start a new crop. Give the Deccan Plateau's unpredictable weather patterns he wanted to drill a bore-well for water and bought a new variety of seed that he hoped would result in an abundant harvest. Neither happened and he quickly found himself immersed in debt.

Overwhelmed by growing pressure, he committed suicide in the hopes that the government rehabilitation package - that would be allocated to his family - would resolve the debt.

But, Lavanya is yet to receive the money. Like many other widows, she is bearing the brunt of local debtors and struggling to support her three children.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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