Securing pesticides, saving farmers’ lives
Gujarat Opts For Lockers To Reduce Suicides
Ahmedabad: Gulping pesticide to end one’s life will no longer be handy for distressed farmers. In 54 villages in Mehsana district, which is home to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthplace, farm insecticides will be stored in village offices and it will take two persons to unlock this stock.
On World Mental Health Day on Thursday, swanky storage units, which constitute community pesticide lockers, arrived at these village offices. Several farmers thronged to have a dekko at these units which, like bank lockers, can be opened only when the farmer and the village officer turn the key together.
In one village, over 200-250 locker units are installed. These are part of Suicide Prevention and Implementation Research Initiative (SPIRIT), a joint move started by the state government along with Punebased Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy, Chennaibased NGO Sneha, US-based National Institute of Mental Health and World Health Organisation (WHO).
Amrut Desai, sarpanch of Vadu village, said in past few years, a couple of farmers had ended their lives drinking pesticide they used in their farms.
“With pesticide stock in lockers, lack of access would hopefully prove as a deterrent for farmers who constitute 50% of the village’s 5,000 population from taking any extreme step,” Desai said.
Dr Ajay Chauhan, superintendent of Ahmedabadbased Government Hospital for Mental Health and coordinator for SPIRIT project, said India had recorded 23,930 suicides in 2015 where the victims had consumed pesticide/insecticide to end their lives.
“Gujarat was seventh with 1,983 persons, including 707 women, committing suicide by drinking pesticide. The model adopts the successful Tamil Nadu initiative by NGO Sneha. Mehsana has been selected for the pilot project,” said Dr Chauhan. He likened lockers as rural equivalent of grilles fixed on bridges of Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad to deter people from jumping off the bridges.
The newly-installed lockers at Vadu village in Mehsana district