FARMER suicides is an issue that has long plagued India and is now seeing an increased rate of occurrence. It is estimated that one farmer dies by suicide each hour across India, based on NCRB data released in 2023. Crop failure, debt burden, harsh restrictions and being unable to repay loans are the main reasons farmers take the extreme step of committing suicide to escape their problems. Once this drastic decision is made, the farmer’s family loses the head of their father, the head of their household, the sole earning member and a beloved family member, according to an Uttar Pradesh-based NGO for farmers named Vidya Dham Samiti. 

Vidya Dham Samiti is an NGO for farmers that works in one of the worst drought-hit regions of India to save farmers from suicide and care for the families of farmers in which suicides have occurred. In giving farmers training in alternative agricultural methods and supporting families of farmers who have committed suicide, Vidya Dham Samiti stands in the gap to ensure that farmers – one of the most important groups of people in the world – have the support needed to live safe and fulfilled lives. 

What are the issues that lead to farmer suicides

Farmers across India live and work in areas that experience agricultural failure due to extreme weather conditions such as drought or floods. When this happens, they have no earnings that season and are unable to support themselves or their families. To purchase resources and equipment like fertilizers, pesticides, seeds and other materials, farmers are forced to take loans from banks or informal money lenders. But when their crop fails or has low yields, the farmers are unable to repay loans, which often have a high interest rate. 

Unable to cope with the high debt and intimidation by loan sharks, many farmers take the tragic decision to end their lives. But these farmers leave behind wives and children who are dependent on them and other farmers facing the same problems they do and are searching desperately for help. Vidya Dham Samiti, as an NGO for farmers, steps in to train farmers in newer and more sustainable agricultural practices and counsel the families where farmer suicides have taken place. To support Vidya Dham Samiti, you can donate here.

a woman farmer

How Vidya Dham Samiti identifies and rescues farmers from suicide 

The NGO for farmers conducts a baseline survey to identify households of farmers in which suicides have taken place and households that are prone to suicide. For these families, Vidya Dham Samiti offers counseling, skill development training and capacity building to train the farmers and their families in alternate agricultural practices so they can continue their livelihoods, access available government schemes and cope with climate change-induced weather conditions such as drought through newer agricultural technologies and practices. 

These are the services that the NGO for farmers provides for farmers and their families: 

Capacity building and skill development 

Founded in 2001, Vidya Dham Samiti fights their hardest to save farmers who are on the verge of suicide by equipping and up-skilling the farmers to continue earning an income even if extreme weather or other circumstances cause crop failure and lead them into debt. The NGO for farmers conducts training and activities to empower farmers in these areas:

  • using compost instead of fertilizers
  • using mixed cropping instead of mono cropping
  • cultivating a mix of food, fodder, fuel and fruit crops
  • providing processing and market support to farmers
  • effective and sustainable use of resources

Using these new and improved practices, Vidya Dham Samiti has helped farmers improve output and secure a stable income while making sure that when difficult times hit, suicide is not being considered as an option by these farmers.two farmers in a field


Alternative agricultural practices

The lack of livelihood opportunities is one of the major concerns for over a decade and the lockdown has further highlighted the issue. We believe that for the migrant and daily wage workers rebuilding agriculture is of utmost importance to secure livelihood locally. 

The NGO for farmers offers training in self-sustainable techniques such as:

  • organic farming
  • vegetable gardening
  • goat farming
  • poultry farming

The NGO for farmers also supports farmers with materials and resources such as:

  • seeds
  • organic manure

Vidya Dham Samiti’s training in these areas can encourage farmers to find alternate sources of income and livelihoods that are sustainable and will support farmers’ families. The work that this NGO for farmers has done in farming communities has proven to be crucial in improving the lives of farmers and giving them other options when faced with devastating losses so that suicide is not considered as an option. 

seeds in the hands of a person in a field

Environmentally friendly agricultural practices

Vidya Dham Samiti’s solutions efficiently make use of natural resources. These practices increase organic carbon and humus (an organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays) in the soil which improves its capacity for water retention. These newer and more sustainable practices reduce the demand for irrigation water up to 80% which leads to more crop output. Furthermore, it also improves the net income for farmers. 

The low irrigation requirements, better soil utilization, low cost of production and increased net income for small and marginal farmers make it easy for the farmers to adopt. The promising outcomes at the initial pilot phase allows the NGO for farmers to encourage more people to adopt these practices as an alternative.

a farmer looking sad with a person's hand on their shoulder


Vidya Dham Samiti comes to the aid of families in which farmers have committed suicide by providing counseling to the remaining family members and makes sure that they do not consider suicide as an option. Despite the difficulties of losing the head of the household, the NGO for farmers ensures that the family is trained in agricultural practices that secure a livelihood and income. The counseling support aims to make a meaningful impact in the lives of farmers’ families.

How did Raja Bhaiyya start his NGO for farmers

Vidya Dham Samiti was founded by Raja Bhaiyya, a social worker who leads the NGO for farmers working with local communities to reduce and end farmer suicides. Raja Bhaiyya shares the heartbreaking story of a farmer who had a debt of ₹6 lakh. When his mother became extremely sick, he had to spend a lot of money on her care. 

“But his land was not producing any yield and his crop was destroyed. Pressure from the banks and the money lenders because of debt left him with no other option but to commit suicide,” shares Raja Bhaiyya of the NGO for farmers. He goes on to share that “his family was shattered, but we helped by giving them food grains and training in sustainable farming. Only after this effort, his family is in a stable condition.” 

an NGO leader sitting in a field

Help stop farmer suicides 

Raja Bhaiyya and the teams from Vidya Dham Samiti are driven by their compassion for farmers, and their families. Farmers feed the nation and without their toil and sacrifice, our families would lack the basic ingredient to keep us alive and well – food. 

But unfair practices, legislation and conditions burden farmers and the lack of help and support lead them to suicide – but we can stop this. Supporting Vidya Dham Samiti means supporting farmers’ families who have experienced suicide. Furthermore, training farmers in alternative agricultural practices removes the burden of debt and allows them to benefit from a successful harvest. To support Vidya Dham Samiti, you can:

Donate Here


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