A farmer or farm worker died every five hours in Madhya Pradesh between 2016 and 2017. At least three farmers killed themselves every day in the drought-ravaged state according to records from National Crime Records Bureau in 2016. Just between February 2016 to mid-November the same year, 1,695 farmers and farm workers had committed suicide by Madhya Pradesh government's own admission.
The rot in the system runs deep and these numbers are merely indicative of the situation that farmers in Madhya Pradesh are living in. Despite bumper crops in summer as well as winter, farmers have been forced to dump their produce on the streets and protest. In Madhya Pradesh alone, 18,687 farmer suicides have been recorded between 2001 and 2015. In a matter of 15 years, the state has lost more than 18,500 farmers.
The NCRB claims crop failure, inability to sell their produce, inability to repay loans, poverty, property disputes, marriage-related issues, family problems and illnesses as causes of farmer suicides in Madhya Pradesh.
The worst-affected region is the Malwa-Nimad region, which comprises 15 districts, including Mandsaur. Despite a bumper crop of onions for the second year in a row, farmers have found no buyers. This forced the government to fix up a price of Rs 8 per kg. Enraged by the government's lack of initiate to support farmers in terms of produce or sale, farmers dumped their produce on the roads when prices plummeted to as low as Rs 1 and Rs 2 per kg last year.
Similar scenarios played out this year as well. Their winter crop, tomatoes and potatoes are also being sold at throw away prices with farmers incurring huge losses. Agitated, farmers have come out on the streets to protest. While one section of the farmers' union withdrew their protests after most of the demands were agreed upon by the Shivraj Singh government, many other unions refused to give up their fight demanding loan waiver and support prices.