Caught in the cycle of debt and death, India’s farmers drove home the severity of the agrarian crisis in 2018

In Karsod, (Palghar district) a village about 100 km from Mumbai, a middle-man buys cluster beans which are in season for Rs 10 a kg from adivasi farmers. He rests on a cot and behind him, in a makeshift tent, the mound of cluster beans is growing. He will sell them in the city for Rs 70 or 80 a kg while the farmer who grew them cannot even cover his or her cost of production. This year, farmers sold onions for a profit of Rs 2 per kg; they threw milk and vegetables on the road in Nashik, because selling it was too demeaning and fetched little money. This is what agriculture has come to.

In Maharashtra, a farmer died while he was protesting outside a bank, or committed suicide because he did not get a loan: incidents like this are endless — the cry of despair from the farming community often ends in death because there seems to be no other way out. The wives of farmers who committed suicide from Vidarbha and Marathwada regions held a moving “condolence” meeting in Mumbai to share their grief and stories of survival.

Pushed to the brink, from the start of this year, and all through 2018, thousands of farmers have made their voices heard by marching on the street to big cities like Mumbai or Delhi, conducting countrywide yatras and protests, and amassing outside Parliament in the hope that their demands will be heard and met. And they are not asking for much — only better prices for their produce, timely credit, right to land, and implementation of the law, so they can make a decent living.