As with all inequities, the reasons are multifactorial and interlinked:
- Environmental (below average regional rainfall)
- Agricultural practices (rising cultivation costs, lack of small irrigation projects, falling returns from crops resulting from change in farming practices and focus on maximising output)
- Poor infrastructure (heavy load-shedding, ignorance of ancillary occupations for raising income)
- Gen-next turning to non-agricultural occupations
- Poverty (inability to repay debts following crop loss, inability to afford basic medical care for self and family, pressure of private moneylenders and banks).
- The last straw that may well and truly have broken their resilient backs is the introduction in 2002 of genetically modified BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) resistant cotton seeds - terminator seeds that must be bought every year rather than self-seed. This greatly adds to the expenses incurred.
To address health care inequalities, healthcare providers and policy makers must address the wider socio-economic factors that push many a desperate man to the brink of suicide. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized farms. Over the past few decades, a number of government-aided and voluntary sector led initiatives have strived relentlessly to address the many causes of mental and social ill-health among the farmers in the Vidharba region. All these initiatives have a singular focus of working to expedite agrarian, socio-economic empowerment. Despite these efforts, much more needs to be done.
One such initiative is led by Professor Ulhas N. Jajoo in the rural hinterlands of Vidarbha. This initiative (“full title of sir’s journey), began in the late 1970s (Book Synopsis).