NEW DELHI (AP) — An Indian official says at least seven debt-ridden farmers have killed themselves after freak hailstorms and heavy unseasonal rains destroyed crops across much of a western state.
Maharashtra government spokesman Satish Lalit said authorities have confirmed seven farmer suicides. But Kishor Tiwari, president of pro-farmer group Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, on Wednesday put the toll much higher, at 32.
The rain and hailstorms in the past month destroyed paddy rice, wheat, cotton and onion crops in 28 of the 35 districts in Maharashtra. The lost crops were worth millions of dollars.
Mumbai, India’s main financial center, is the capital of Maharashtra.
Agriculture is the main livelihood for more than 60 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people, and they are heavily dependent on the weather.