Mumbai: In order to fight the epidemic of farmer suicides, the Maharashtra government on Friday announced a socio-psychological plan to provide psychological assistance and counseling that may go a long way in preventing farmers from committing suicide.
Maharashtra had been a bed of farmer suicides for last 15 years especially in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Vidarbha has seen a rise in the farmer suicides in the last few months. In 2014, a total of 721 farmers committed suicide. But, in 2015, within the first six months, at least 446 farmers have committed suicide.
A Times of India report has quoted the State health minister Dr Deepak Sawant as saying: “We carried out an audit of the suicides committed in the first six months of 2015 and found that there is a small window period in which most farmers who killed themselves were in an indecisive phase on whether to take the step or not. We want to identify this phase in a farmer’s life and intervene effectively.”
The health plan aims to achieve its objective by hiring more psychiatrists and psychologists in the suicide-prone zones, training community health workers, and hiring counselors on a contract basis, as per the TOI report.
The community health workers including Anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists (ASHAs) will conduct a screening test using questioners to assess and analyze the mental health of the farmers.
For the past few months, the government is running a pilot project in Yavatmal and Osmanabad districts and the program is scheduled to be implemented in 12 other districts by October.
The government resolution (GR) states that it would undertake an expansion of psychiatry and psychology departments in the nine district hospitals and five sub-district hospitals.
The overall expenses, as per the estimation of GR, is expected to be around Rs 23.82 crore.
In a country that suffers from water scarcity all year, farmers in the villages of Narsinghpur district in Madhya Pradesh have come up with ingenious solutions for rainwater harvesting to address the issue.
While water shortage has been the bane of Salichauka village for long, a local farmer, Manoj Rai, has devised a solution not only to tackle the issue but also to find a way to manage excess rain water and use it to recharge water sources. To do this, he used waste material to channel the water to borewells and dry wells using a pipeline network.
Rai said the village was infamous for facing water scarcity. Such is his understanding of the gravity of the problem that he expounded that the 3rd World War would be fought over water and that several cities like Cape Town and Shimla are already on the verge of a Day-Zero situation.
He added that everyone can come up with their own technique for water harvesting without spending extra money and if every farmer did his bit towards redirecting excess water to recharge the groundwater, the future generations too will have water.
After Rai’s solution came to the limelight, other farmers also started adopting it and the water level has reportedly risen, the villagers claim. They believe this will help them during the summers too.
A resident of the village Kaluram Patel said he adopted the technique after he saw several other villagers using it.
He said they have witnessed a rise in water level and the tube wells now have water which would help him grow multiple crops in a year.
Similarly, in the rocky terrains of Bilguwa village, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the farmers to procure water for their crops when Monu Pathak, a local farmer, devised a solution to conserve water.
Pathak said he constructed a model to recharge the groundwater level. He pointed out that it is extremely important to look for methods to save water when half of the country is facing water shortage and the rest facing floods. He also urged the residents of the village to employ such methods in their houses or farms.
Sushil Kumar, a resident of Bilguwa, said the technique employed by Pathak is easy to operate.
He said if every farmer were to utilise rainwater harvesting techniques, the water level would witness a significant rise and would solve the water crisis in the village.
Agricultural scientists claimed that the crops in the region were getting affected by the declining groundwater level and commended the efforts by the farmers to address the water crisis.
Rajesh Tripathi, Deputy Director at the district agriculture department, pointed out the irregular pattern of rains that the region has witnessed.
He said that if water is being continuously pumped using tube wells or sprinkler pump, the water sources are going to keep depleting.
If we can find a way for the rainwater to replenish the water table directly, farmers would benefit from it, he said.
While commending the efforts taken by the farmers of Bilguwa and Salichauka, he added that efforts are being taken to educate the farmers about the importance of adopting such techniques to recharge any water source in their vicinity. (IANS)