Farmer's Despair


Farmer's Despair

Sanjukta Sarania | August 10, 2019 18:21 hrs

India being an agrarian country, about 70 percent of the population's livelihood depends on agriculture. Unfortunately, farmers’ suicide is an incessant problem experienced at a national level. Maharashtra has been reported as the highest farmers’ suicide risk state with an average of 10 suicides per day. In 2014, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) had presented data of the suicide rates in India in which 5,650 suicides were committed by farmers. In the 2015 reports, 84 such cases had been reported in Assam. However there have been no new reports by the NCRB since 2015, giving no current solid statistics on the issue.

The common causes of these cases are noted to be indebtedness, and natural factors like flood. Often the farmers are unable to repay the loans taken from banks and NBFCs to purchase expensive seeds and fertilizers. Economists have suggested that poor government policies that favour privatization, liberalization and globalization can also be considered as root causes.

The actions and policies implemented by the government have resulted in inefficient and misleading farming practices. The flaw in these policies is considered to be the emphasis put on credit and loan, rather than productivity and farmer prosperity. For instance, the Agriculture Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008, benefitted the moneylenders by paying off the outstanding principals and interests of the farmers, but failed to provide a reliable and stable source of income for the farmers.

The government has to realize that debt relief schemes only prolong the problem, not eradicate them. The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has been demanding 12 bighas land to each of the indigenous landless farmers to ensure cultivation of 3 crops in a year. More reliable irrigation and other agriculture infrastructure are extremely necessary to address the distressed farmers. Also taking note of the current circumstances, the agriculture sector is expected to be severely affected. Effective provisions and immediate assistance by the government will be in great need at this difficult moment. 

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