NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Thousands of Indian farmers have lost their crops in drought-hit areas, and some farmers are forced to flee, as they struggle to feed their families.
Farmers are increasingly turning to selling their produce and are turning to the online market for their survival, with many of the online markets offering lower prices than the local market.
Many farmers are also selling their land, leaving behind crops that are not suitable for cultivation, the farmers’ association of the state of Madhya Pradesh said on Monday.
India is among the world’s worst affected by drought, with an average of 5.1 million hectares (14.6 million acres) lost in the past three years and 1.2 million farmers affected by crop loss, according to the United Nations.
Farm farmers are increasingly facing difficulties to sell their produce as they cannot buy their own seeds and fertiliser.
“The price of crops is dropping and farmers are not selling their crops,” a farmer from the western state of Chhattisgarh, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters by telephone.
Farmer suicides have increased in recent years as the farmers struggle to survive on their lands.
Last year, 1,400 farmers committed suicide in the state, the highest rate in the country, according a report by the National Family Health Survey.
Farmworkers are also leaving their fields for the last time as their wages are not being paid.
Farm workers, who make up about 40 percent of India’s population, have been targeted by employers who want them to quit and sell their labour to boost their business.
Some of them are forced by their employers to leave their land to sell it, but many do not want the hassle of selling their crop and are reluctant to do so.
“If they don’t sell it at a good price, we will sell it ourselves,” the farmer said, declining to give his name.
Many people, including many young women, are also seeking work as labourers in the agricultural sector, he said.
The drought has been compounded by rising prices for cotton and other staple crops.
India’s farmers are suffering from drought because of a lack of rainfall.
In the past few years, India’s cotton crop has been in free fall due to erratic rainfall and low soil moisture levels.
A severe drought is now threatening to cause more damage to crops, according the World Bank.