• Vines of Debt

    Onion or grape farmers of Nashik in north Maharashtra have very little to choose to escape debt, and now death.

    in Nashik, Maharashtra

    Pandurang Kadam’s daughter-in-law Sunita with her children. Burdened by debt, Pandurang set himself on fire in the Lasalgaon market yard. Photo: Dionne Bunsha

    While writing out the receipt for Pandurang Kadam’s onion crop, the trader didn’t realise that it would be forensic evidence. The next day, 20 April 2006, Pandurang returned to the Lasalgaon market and set himself on fire. The town watched shocked as Pandurang burned in the yard where a thousand farmers’ hopes are extinguished everyday. In his pocket, they recovered the receipt. Behind it, Pandurang had written his last words.
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  • Harvest of death

    Everyday in Vidarbh, there are three suicides reported. Farmers are living only because they are not dying.

    in Wardha and Yavatmal, Maharashtra

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  • Bt rice trials uprooted

    By uprooting Bt rice trials in Tamil Nadu, farm activists and Greenpeace have stirred up the debate on GM food testing. And they have support from unlikely quarters – rice exporters.


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  • Back to the Basics

    Organic farming is not the only solution to the problems contributing to the farm crisis. However, it is the only one within the farmer’s control.


    in Wardha, Maharashtra

     WITHIN THEIR CONTROL: Farmers can get the same or a better yield without spending on pesticide and fertilizer. Photo: Dionne Bunsha Read more

  • Weddings in the time of suicide

    On the mass weddings in Vidarbha, a phenomenon that has grown due to the agrarian crisis.


    in Amaravati, Maharashtra Read more

  • Villages for Sale in Vidarbh

    To draw attention to their desperation, many villages in the suicide-ridden Vidharbh region have declared that their land and kidneys are up for sale.

    in Amravati and Wardha, Maharashtra.

    ‘Kidney Sale Centre’: proclaims a banner sprawled across a ramshackle bamboo tent in Shingnapur village in Amravati district. Farmers here are threatening to sell their kidneys.

    “We have invited the Prime Minister and the President to inaugurate this kidney shop. They should allow us to sell our kidneys. We are all ruined by debt. Many farmers are killing themselves. Our kidneys are all we have left to sell,” says Madhavgir Champat Giri, who sold all his land to pay his bank loan. Read more

  • Biotech Brinjal

    Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had a rather unusual bunch of visitors last week – Greenpeace protesters dressed up as sheep and cattle, who camped outside his office. The “animals” were asking for an investigation into the death of 1,600 head of cattle and sheep in Andhra Pradesh in April 2006. The deaths were closely linked to prolonged consumption of Bt cotton stalks and leaves that were left in fields after the harvest.
    Bt cotton is the only genetically modified (GM) seed sold in India. In the four years since it has been in use, not only has it failed to live up to its claim of being a `miracle seed’, but it has also had harmful effects on biosafety.

    At a time when the safety of Bt cotton is highly suspect, the government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) is considering clearance of large-scale field trials of Bt Brinjal. It is the first time that GM Brinjal is being released for an advanced stage of field trials in open conditions anywhere in the world. It is also the closest India has got to sanctioning GM food crops.

    If cleared, it will be the first time that the GEAC allows large-scale field trials for GM food crops. Such field trials could lead to the uncontrolled release of genetically modified organisms into the environment, which could contaminate normal varieties of the crop. Japan and several European countries have banned cultivation of GM food crops. But India is allowing it entry without taking adequate precautions.
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  • Vidarbha in Flames

    A local legislator attempted suicide in the legislative assembly, frustrated by all other methods to alert the state to the farmers suicides


    In Vidarbha, Maharashtrax
    It was time for a reality check. In the safe confines of the legislative assembly, Maharashtra’s politicians witnessed a dose of the real world last week. Gulabrao Gavande, a Shiv Sena legislator, wanted them to wake up to the daily tragedy of the Vidarbha countryside. So, he rushed to the floor of the assembly and poured a bottle of kerosene on himself. Then, he opened a bottle of pesticide and was about to swallow it when other legislators rushed to stop him. Gavande was banned from attending the rest of the session.

    His recklessness could have set the entire house on fire – literally. But his shocking suicide attempt ignited a fiery debate about the government’s neglect of the agricultural crisis in the underdeveloped Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra. Farmers’ suicides are on the rise. Everyday, a few more deaths are reported in local newspapers. But so far the state has not addressed this alarming tragedy. A defensive chief minister promised to announce a ‘package’ for Vidarbha’s farmers, but was not willing to say anything more. The opposition too has no creative solutions to offer. Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray rushed to Vidarbha and assured farmers his party’s muscle power to bash up moneylenders and bank officials who harass them.
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