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Many
non farming people have perception that farming is a stress free life and rural
life is healthier, it helps to establish and maintain close family relationship
and financial concerns are less. However this situation has changed over the
past years and it is quite interesting that farming is found to be one of the
occupations which cause high stress. Stress is our response to anything that
threatens our survival. The Survival can be physical, emotional, financial or
any kind of survival that’s important for human life. When one get excited
about something he feels anticipation and this helps him get mentally and
physically ready for the task. This is called Eustress, and it gives energy.
But when one suffer from too much stress, and particularly if it remains over a
long period of time, this is called distress. Prolonged distress can result in
severe physical and/or emotional problems. In many rural areas, a high
percentage of visits to family physicians are due to stress related
illnesses.  Stress can arise from an
opportunity, demand, constraint, threat or challenge when the outcome of the
event is both important and uncertain1.

Occupational
stress is the negative effect on the individual from the sum of different
factors in a work place, which may act as stress. It has been further defined
as a perceived imbalance between occupational demands and the individual’s
ability to perform  when  the 
consequences  of  failure 
are  thought  to 
be  important.  Beehr 
and Newman (1978) defined occupational stress as a condition arising
from the interaction of people and their jobs and characterized by changes
within people that force them to develop from their normal functioning2.

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Farming
has been recognized as one of the most hazardous occupation in terms of working
environment & conditions leading to accidents, injuries, and diseases under
different physical, biological, chemical, psychological and sociological
factors.

Many
of the factors causing mental and emotional stress are viewed as
uncontrollable, and include the disease or pests, failure of equipment,
commodity prices, weather, input costs, market prices, media portrayal of the
agricultural industry, government 
policies  and  the 
lack  of  adequate, 
affordable,  accessible  care, 
health problems, family problems, illiteracy etc. Though, there are many
factors cause stress to farming community the following categories have been
identified as stress factors for this study.

Financial
Stress

The
current precarious financial scenario of agricultural sector is causing a serious
stress to farming communities. Most farmers are caught in the high input costs
– low remunerative price vicious cycle leading to financial crisis and the occupation
is unviable for the farming families. Lack of regular cash flow, stringent
banking regulations, rising input costs, no remunerative commodity prices, high
debt loads, and not enough money for daily necessities are attributed as stress
factors among farming community.

Work
Overload Stress

Farming
communities facing overload for the daily work though involvement of all family
members in farm work. Continuous & long duration of work, untimely,
seasonal load with pressure causing anxiety and emotional disturbance as it is not
fulfilling the basic necessities.

Weather
Stress

Farmers
have always had to contend with the unpredictability of the weather. Perhaps
one of the reasons why farming is such a stressful occupation is the number of
thing which have to come together to succeed in farming.  Favourable weather is certainly such an
element. To produce a good harvest the weather must cooperate in producing a
narrow and optimal range of temperatures, sunshine, and moisture.

Farming
Hassles

These
stressors are commonly faced by farming communities which are part and parcel
of farming and rural life. An equipment breakdown at a peak time, having to
travel long distances for goods and services, problems with weeds or insects,
sickness in livestock, pressures in keeping up with new technology and
products, loss of farm help when most needed, having to use hazardous
chemicals, need to learn and adjust to new policies and regulations etc.

Other
People as Stress

While
interaction with other can provide enrichment and fulfilment, other people can
sometimes be also significant sources of stress. Some of the stressors falling
in this category are problems in a farm operating agreement with relatives; not
seeing enough people, conflicts with spouse, decisions being made without one’s
personal knowledge, not spending enough time with  spouse and 
family,  and  not 
being considered  as  an important part of the farm business by
others.

MATERIAL & METHODS

Type of study:
Community based descriptive cross sectional study.

Study population:
Patients admitted in Government Medical College and Hospital (GHATI) Aurangabad
with an attempted suicide (due to consumption of OP poisoning, drowning,
hanging etc) during the year of 2014 &2015.  Aurangabad was one of the drought prone districts
in Maharashtra. Hence, this study attempted to find out the possible factors
which may act as stressors in farming community. The total number of Patients
admitted in GHATI with an attempt to commit suicide during period of 2014 &
2015 were counted. This was followed by listing out the attempt to suicide
patients of Aurangabad district followed by categorization as per talukawise
and purposive sampling for selection of talukas was done.

Since
the main objective of the study was to find out the stress levels of farmers of
Marathwada region, two talukas namely Aurangabad and Kannad, which recorded
highest number of farmer’s suicidal attempt cases admitted during 2014 and 2015
in the largest referral hospital of the region – Government Medical College
Hospital, Aurangabad, were selected.

Sampling Methodology: Subsequently
from each of the selected taluka six highest incidence villages were selected
from which all the farmers were grouped into three strata’s as per their size
of land holding – Small (5 hectares). Then 120 farmers were selected from the three
categories following proportionate probability sampling method, for the survey.

Data Collection Tool: The  Modified 
Farm  Stress  Inventory – Questionnaire  of 
Pierrette  Desrosiese (Farm Stress
Inventory created by James & Lilly Walker, Newsletter of Centre for
Agricultural Medicine, University of Saskatchewan) was used to evaluate the
stress related  factors.  And stressors classified into five factors as
Financial Stressors, Farming Hassles, Weather Stressors, Work Overload
Stressors, and Other People as Stressors.

The
questionnaire consisted of 60 issues reflecting the above five stress causing
factors .for selection of level of stress the opinion of the farmers was
recorded by using a five point scale (low stress 1-2-3-4-5-high stress). The
score for each factor the summation of the answers of the issues of that
particular factor. And if score were below 24 it was considered as low level
stress. Score in between 24-36, medium level stress and score 36-60, high
stress level of that particular factor3.

Inclusion Criteria: Farmers
who were ready to participate in the study with minimum 10 years experience in
farming.

Exclusion Criteria: Farmers
who were not willing to take part in study.

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