Madhya Pradesh – geographically the heart of India, is the second largest Indian state with an agrarian economy. A state with largest forest-cover in India, Madhya Pradesh has a good arable soil across its vast lengths and breadths. Yet surprisingly today Madhya Pradesh features in the list of 11 most drought-affected states of India. While sifting through various news related to this topic I happened to read a very unusual news from Russia Today.
Badi is a village in Khargone district of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is home to some 320 families of 2,500 residents. Since the beginning of the year 2016 this central Indian village has seen a string of 80 unexplained suicides reports Russia Today. Each of the village families have lost atleast one family member in these bizarre suicide incidents. Surprisingly locals blame it on demonic spirits, but researchers connected with this happening say pesticides could be the main reason behind these suicides as there have been researches pointing towards use of chemical fertilizers leading to widespread ‘depression’. Khargone features in the list of India’s 250 most backwards and poor districts. Also, various news reports depict that the locals here are under influence of many superstitions.
As per Russia Today, in the last two decades this ill-fated village has seen overall 350 suicides say police reports. Various psychiatrists believe that suicides are likely caused by depression and schizophrenic episodes, which could be triggered by excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides when farming. In a study some years ago in China, where a large number of farmers in a particular area were committing suicide, it was found that insecticides used there contained organo-phosphate, which is highly toxic and causes depressive mental conditions. A similar problem is plaguing Canada’s First Nation community of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario. Here too the village saw some 100 suicides in the last 9 months. This has made the local administration declare a ‘state of emergency’. Based on these co-relations psychiatrists have increasingly started to believe that chemical fertilizers affect nervous system and drive people towards suicides.
Importantly these are not just some sundry isolated incidents which should be conveniently sidelined. Chemical fertilizers have been increasingly propagated and used for increased agricultural yield. But there are several harmful side-effects of use of chemical fertilizers viz., water pollution, air pollution, chemical burn to crops, acidification and calcification of soil, mineral depletion of soil, reduced natural resistance of plants offered genetically, etc. Moreover these chemical fertilizers are all the more harmful to humans and animals once they enter food chains. They are found to cause cancer, dysfunctions of liver, kidneys, lungs, blood, brain, intestines, etc., killing of good bacteria and many more fatal or life-disrupting diseases.
Against this organic manures, pesticides, herbicides, etc. present a natural, eco-friendly and undamaging alternative over chemicals. The age-old saying – ‘There are no shortcuts to success’, stands true in every branch of the ‘science of life’, and agriculture and nature are no exceptions.