Sugunamma’s husband committed suicide – becoming yet another statistic of a life claimed by the agrarian crisis. One of the key aspects of a tragedy such as this, is certainly, that it is a call to the conscience of the society at large, imploring us to dig deeper to understand why farmers are being driven to distress to an extent that they choose to take their own lives. In addition, there is also a family left behind in each one of these instances – already in distress and now in further despair financially, psychologically and in terms of managing their agricultural activities.
Sugunamma, a tribal woman from a tanda in Talupula mandal in Anantapur dist, was in a similar situation, left alone to fend for herself and her family of 2 daughters. AID partner, Rural and Environment Development Society (REDS) gave her 4 sheep worth Rs.25,000 and she has been able to get back on her feet, including becoming a member of a newly formed Women Farmers’ Cooperative. This goes to show how a little well-thought out help can go a long way! Overall, in A.P. and Telangana, more than Rs.22 lakhs has been leveraged to help about 400 families through this project.
Apart from this kind of direct assistance to farmer suicide families, AID works with REDS and several organizations as part of a collaborative platform in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, to carry out find-finding visits and data compilation of suicide families. There have also been significant advocacy efforts to ensure government compensation to farmer suicide families, for example by spreading awareness through leaflets and meetings, highlighting these issues in the media and building public pressure and providing inputs on Government orders relating to farmer suicides.
There is still a lot of work ahead of us as the agrarian crises shows no sign of abating and a farmer continues to take his/her own life every 30 minutes in India.