Season after season of failed crops is pushing farmers to the brink of desperation, while the inaction of the Maharashtra government is allowing agriculture to slip into a steep decline

DOWN TO EARTH

KUMAR SAMBHAV Shrivastava

MAY 19 2015

Farmers spend lakhs of rupees for digging bore wells, many of which do not yield water anymore
Farmers spend lakhs of rupees for digging bore wells, many of which do not yield water anymore / Picture from Down to Earth

In Talavada village in Beed district of Maharashtra, farmer Sahibrao Athole made one last attempt to call for help. Lying alone in his field on the night of June 12, 2014, Athole was gasping for breath. He had consumed a litre of pesticide. Athole used his mobile phone to call a friend and left a message for his family. He told him he had gulped down a bottle of pesticide and that he was dying. At first, Athole’s brother, Rahul, did not believe the message. But he soon realised that it was too late in the night for his brother to play a prank. He rushed to the field, about four kilometres from their house, and found Athole lying unconscious. He was frothing at his mouth. Rahul picked him up and ran a kilometre to reach the road. From there, he was taken to a private hospital. Athole showed some signs of recovery initially, but lost consciousness again after two days. On the ninth day, doctors declared him dead.
At 33, Athole was the only breadwinner of his family which included his wife and three children as well as Rahul, his wife and child. “He was extremely hard-working. He would work in the fields early mornings and late evenings and earn daily…continue reading

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