Of the roughly 16,000 farmers who commit suicide annually in India, one quarter of them transpire in this drought-prone region. The farmers face high production costs met by low market prices and have trouble breaking even. They end up debilitated by hunger and debt. Suicide is their escape.
This year, the numbers could increase in such an erratic rainy season. I looked for a sliver of hope on this ongoing saga. There is an organic cotton farmer named Vasant Pohekar in the area who is encouraging more than 5 thousand at risk farmers in the region to make the shift to Organic Farming. This practice, with higher profit margins and lower input costs, is saving farmers’ money and quite possibly their lives.
The piece will be featured on the Wall Street Journal website in the coming week.
I shot ample footage of these women laborers. They spent up to 8 hours a day crab-walking through the fields plucking weeds at intense speeds. I, on the other hand, could barely handle 8 seconds. It was interesting to take their profession for a test-drive. It generated much respect and quite a few chuckles.