Feb 14, 2013 at 03:55pm IST

Budget yatra: 22 farmers commit suicide in 2 months following dismal harvest in Yavatmal

Yavatmal: Travelling through areas where economic policies have made a huge impact, both positive and negative, CNN-IBN's Budget Yatra moves to Yavatmal in Maharashtra. This year alone, within just two months, over 22 farmers have committed suicide following a dismal harvest.

Six killed themselves within the space of 48 hours in January and another three on Makar Sankranti. Their families marked Republic Day as Black Day.

Chandrakala Meisram's husband became just another statistic. Despite owning 3 acres of land, she works for daily wages to bring up her two daughters. "I have not paid the Rs 17,000 loan which my husband had taken. It's difficult to sustain but I have to do it for my kids," Meisram said.

At Pandharkawada's cotton mandi, there is little excitement as farmers bring in their crop. These are distress sales, made to pay off moneylenders. Government statistics show crop failure on 4 million hectares of irrigated land.

As the auction ends, few manage to get anything above the minimum support price of Rs 3,900.

The government reduced the minimum support price of cotton last year from Rs 4,500 per quintal to Rs 3,960 due to decline in global demand. This has increased stress. Those opposed to BT cotton blame the genetically modified crop which they claim demands higher fertilizers and water making it a risky crop.

In many areas, the yield has increased and the crop is better, but cost of cultivation is almost double.