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Each year, several cases of suicides by farmers are reported from drought-affected regions in Maharasthra. Vidarbha and Marathwada regions here are the worst-affected but there is a silver lining in the blazing sky here as several youngsters have left cushy jobs and have begun initiatives to help prevent farmer suicides.

Close to 3000 youngsters have quit their jobs and are volunteering in the region to ensure that instances of suicides from farmers disappear. Vinayak Hegana, a youth from Kolhapur, is just one of the many who have taken up initiative to give farmers confidence to tackle situations of agrarian crisis. He organises personal counseling sessions with them to boost their morale – especially during times of failed crop output. Hailing from a farming family, Hegana studied agriculture in a Kolhapur college and says repeated farmer suicides compelled him to work for their cause. “We have to do something for the farmers,” he says. “After visiting drought affected areas two years back, I decided to make a team for this mission. A team of about 3000 youngsters was created through social media and with the help of some NGOs.”

Hegana says that they appeal to farmers not to resort to the drastic measure by assuring them of finding a solution to their problems.

At least 3,146 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2013, the latest data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show. That brings the total number of farmers taking their own lives in the Western Indian state to 60,750 since 1995.  Maharashtra’s record finds no mention in the media.  The picture in the state got a lot worse after 2004. On average, 3,685 farmers in the state took their lives every year between 2004-13.

Farmers’ suicides in the state of Maharashtra 1995-2013

Year                          Maharashtra farm suicides

1995                          1083

1996                          1981

1997                          1917

1998                          2409

1999                          2423

2000                         3022

2001                         3536

2002                         3695

2003                         3836

Total 1995-2003      23,902

2004                         4147

2005                         3926

2006                        4453

2007                        4238

2008                        3802

2009                        2872

2010                         3141

2011                         3337

2012                         3786

2013                         3146

Total 2004-2013        36,848

Total 1995-2013         60,750