Anji and Narasa Reddy: 'The debt became too much for them'

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The Independent Online

When Anji and Narasa Reddy decided to convert their small family farm to growing cotton, the two brothers believed they were heading for a prosperous future.

When Anji and Narasa Reddy decided to convert their small family farm to growing cotton, the two brothers believed they were heading for a prosperous future.

They had been persuaded by arguments that selling the cash crop on the world market would offer them a far more comfortable existence than simply living off their land in a village in the Medak district of Andhra Pradesh.

Instead, both men committed suicide within nine months of each other, crippled by debts incurred as they drilled boreholes to provide enough water for the thirsty new crop that they soon found they could not sell for a profit.

On 20 March last year, Narasa, 38, who had four children, told his wife that he was going to the fields to inspect the crop. Once there, he swallowed a bottle of the expensive pesticide needed to safeguard the cotton plants from parasites and lapsed into a coma. He was dead within hours.

By December, Anji, 35, could no longer cope with the family's debt crisis and hanged himself.

His widow, Padmavathi, who must now care for the couple's two children, said: "For many years we survived as a traditional family farm. But then Anji and Narasa moved into the cotton crop and the debt became too much for them."

Now, the men's wives, six children and parents find themselves relying on relatives for their survival.

Ram Reddy, 76, the father of Anji and Narasa, said: "We cannot believe we have lost two sons."

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