Farmers in India have been committing suicide at an extremely high rate. Sadly, this leaves their families in very desperate situations. Indian widow, Yogita Kanhaiya's husband and father both committed suicide after their cotton crops produced very low yields. Not only are she and her children suffering from this loss, but they now have no financial support, and her husband's debts have all been transferred to her. It's difficult to even afford food to feed her family.
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But what is causing so many farmers to turn to suicide as their only option? One contributing factor is the introduction of genetically modified seeds into cotton production. These seeds are more expensive than the regular kind, and although they are intended to produce higher crop yields, that's not always the case. To guarantee high yields, ideal environmental conditions have to be met: enough rain, enough sun, etc. When this doesn't happen, the yield is often much lower than expected.
Many farmers take out loans to buy these seeds, and if they don't make a profit they're not able to pay the loan back. They are then forced to borrow more money in hopes of a better crop yield next year. Ironically, even in a good year when there is a surplus of cotton, the price drops significantly and farmers typically don't make a profit either. It's not difficult to see what drives them to depression and subsequently to take their own lives. When it's impossible to be in control of your own means of income, it's easy to fall into a state of desperation.
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Read more about suicide among Indian farmers:
Think Progress: Behind India's 'Epidemic' Of Farmer Suicides
CNN: Why India's cotton farmers are killing themselves