Current Affairs

FARMER SUICIDES IN INDIA

 

FARMER SUICIDES IN INDIA

India is an agrarian country with around 60% of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture. Farmer suicides account for 11.2% of all suicides in India.

The number of suicide cases by farmers due to agrarian reasons has increased by 26 percent to 1,109 in 2014, with majority of deaths reported from Maharashtra.

Out of 1,109 cases, 986 were reported from Maharashtra, 84 from Telangana and 29 from Jharkhand.

In 2013, 879 farmers had committed suicide, and in 2012 the cases of farmer suicides were 1,046, according to a data shared by the Minister of State for Agriculture.

Reasons

  • Among the reasons pressure of credit agency, poor marketing and crop failure are three major reasons leading farmers to end their lives
  • Crop failure: Agriculture heavily depends on monsoon. The success of crop production and availability of water are inseparable components. Crop failure is attributed as major cause for farmer’s suicide. High cost of labor, climatic hazards and high cost of inputs are the major reasons of crop failure.
  • Agriculture credit : This is the key input for farmers to operate farm at any place. Poor farmers depend on credit to raise crops specifically rice. Insufficient time for repayment, increased pressure to repay loan, high rate of interest and refusal for 2nd loan because of 1st loan was not cleared and diversion of farm credit for other purposes are the main reasons for the harassment of farmers.
  • Loan burden is definitely a strong factor behind farmer suicide. The problem in agricultural credit is the non repayment of loan and that too before starting another crop.
  • Economic conditions: Economic causes are the increasing cost of living to which farmers are not able to adjust. Insufficient farm income and increasing cost of living followed by mounted pressure on limited income without having alternate ways of earning except farming lead to farmers to end their lives.
  • Social factors: Loan as social stigma, increased family burden within limited income, expansion of aspiration family members, on-cooperation of family members to share burden and increased family pressure to meet the requirement put farmers in distress stage for which they opt for suicides. Scientists feel that increased family burden and social stigma of being loaner put the farmers in wrong way to end their lives.
  • Market: Agriculture and market are intervenient. Once market is favorable farmers derive good income to live. But in rural areas the poor farmers are left at the mercy of market which is never in favor of producers. The market also plays a very significant role in sustainability of farm families.
  • The scientists expressed no guarantee for procurement, non-disposal of farm produce and distress sale as major three reasons against low market price, non –guarantee to procure and non-disposal of farm produce of farmers.
  • Policy Lacunas: The scientists expressed no guarantee for procurement, non-disposal of farm produce and distress sale as major three reasons against low market price, non –guarantee to procure and non-disposal of farm produce of farmers.

Some government steps

Agricultural debt waiver and debt relief scheme, 2008

The Government of India next implemented the Agricultural debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme in 2008 to benefit over 36 million farmers at a cost of 653 billion (US$9.9 billion). This spending was aimed at writing of part of loan principal as well as the interest owed by the farmers. Direct agricultural loan by stressed farmers under so-called Kisan Credit Card were also to be covered under this Scheme.

2013 diversify income sources package

In 2013, the Government of India launched a Special Livestock Sector and Fisheries Package for farmers suicide-prone regions of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. The package was aimed to diversify income sources of farmers. The total welfare package consisted of 912 million (US$14 million).

Criticism of govt. programs

The government’s response and relief packages have generally been ineffective, misdirected and flawed.

It has focused on credit and loan, rather than income, productivity and farmer prosperity. Assistance in paying off outstanding principal and interest helps the money lenders, but has failed to create reliable and good sources of income for the farmer going forward.

Moneylenders continue to offer loans at interest rates between 24 to 50 percent, while income generating potential of the land the farmer works on has remained low and subject to weather conditions.

Government has failed to understand that debt relief just postpones the problem and a more lasting answer to farmer distress can only come from reliable income sources, higher crop yields per hectare, irrigation and other infrastructure security.

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