India being an agrarian country with almost 70% of its people of the country directly or indirectly depending upon agriculture. Even after the continuous approach of the government to improve the social and financial conditions of farmers. Since 2013, every year around 12,000 death by suicide of farmers are reported. Farmer suicide in India is alarming. Roughly about 10% of farmer suicide constitutes all suicides in India. There is no contradiction that the farmer’s death by suicide put the demographic nature of the country in jeopardy.
Do you know the facts about Farmer’s suicide?
If you don’t, then go through the points mentioned below:
- It is reported that around seven States face the worst situation of the farmers. The states are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu. Only these seven States are responsible for 87.5% of total suicides in the agriculture sectors of India.
- Among these States, Maharashtra is one of the most affected states.
- Punjab is one of the states which mainly get benefits from the agricultural economy. It is reported that around 4687 suicides between the years 1995-2015. One district named Mansa in Punjab alone reported 1334 suicides. Creating very worrisome situations of farmers in India.
- Marginal farmers, small farmers are committing suicide. They can either be farmer cultivators for agricultural laborers.
Reasons behind the Farmer’s suicide in India
- The gush in input costs- One of the crucial reasons for farmer suicide is been the growing burden on farmers because of grown-up prices. For instance, the growing price of wheat has been tripled than it was in 2005.
- The value of chemicals, seeds, and fertilizers has been increased largely. Besides this, agricultural equipment like tractors, submersible pipes, etc is adding to the puffed up prices. Even the cost of labor and animals is getting expensive too.
- Suffering due to loans- Vital reason for the suicide is because of the unpaid loans that farmers take from local banks. It is not clear whether the bank might have harassed them for repaying. This is something that needs to be discussed with proper evidence.
- Lack of awareness- Generally farmers are not well aware of the government policies. The literacy gap and digital gap that has been created is causing more lives of farmers.
- Climate change- Because of the unpredictable monsoon system, the agriculture of the country has been affected largely. Sometimes the situations like that flood arise or situation like drought affects the shortfall of production year in and year out.
- Interstate water crisis- When State confronts each other over a water dispute. They fail to fulfill the demand of water for farmers in order to meet the production rate of crops. For instance when Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had a dispute over the water of river Kaveri. Some areas of both the state went out of the water which resulted in the unwillingness of each other to fulfill each other’s water need.
- In addition, the crop failure, unsustainable production, the farmer indebtedness leading to the failure of strengthening the economic state of farmers that act as a more powerful force or reason behind the suicides.
Responses Government gave to solve the problem
- Relief package 2006- This was issued mainly for 31 districts of four States. These four states are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh.
- Agricultural debt waiver and debt Scheme 2008- This scheme gave benefit to approximately 36 million farmers. It basically aimed at giving relief to the farmers from the part of the loan principal as well as interest owed by them.
These were the responses of the Central Government. The respective States also introduced its policies like Maharashtra introduced Maharashtra Bill to keep a check on farmer’s loans. Kerela introduced Kerela Farmer’s Debt Relief Commission Bill 2012.
The solution to the problem
- Firstly, the fertilizer’s cost should be lowered. Industries manufacturing fertilizers should cut down the cost. It should be cut through the internal funding which would lower the input costs.
- Secondly, the government should incorporate policies like importing advanced equipment used for agriculture at cheaper rates so that the manufacturing rate of crops can be increased at a low cost of equipment.
- Thirdly, big farmers must not be allowed to overpower or take away the benefits of small and marginal farmers. Cooperative farming should be encouraged amongst them.
- Fourthly, an integrated policy of pest management to prevent pest damage- It focuses on the approach that combines biological, chemical, mechanical, and physical methodology to prevent the damaging of the crop.
- Fifth, a state seed policy should be used. They are created with the help of advancement in science and technology. These types of seeds help in a new formation of genotypes, contract farming, and sensitization to advise weather conditions.
- And finally, precision farming techniques like Systematic Rice Intensification should be encouraged.
Usually, the suicide of farmers becomes a topic for political debates. Every major political party plays the blame game in India for the situation of farmers. We all are very aware of the fact that 70% of the Indian economy depends on agriculture. So instead of blaming each other, we should focus on how we can contribute even a small portion of our efforts to improve the current situation of farmers.
Riya Agarwal | Amity Law School, Lucknow