Farmers Struggle and Suicide in India
India has its roots in agriculture, with most Indians depending on it, and consists of 15%
shares in the Indian Economy. But do the farmers, who carry out the act of farming,
reap what they sow? Studies have shown that farmers have struggles relating to anti-
farmer laws, poor government policies, the debt burden, crop failure, which might lead
to farmer suicide.
Farmer Suicide refers to the catastrophe of farmers committing suicide since the 1970s
by drinking pesticides. Since 1995 a total of 296,438 Indian farmers have committed
suicide, as per The National Crime Records Bureau. The highest rate of suicide was in
Maharashtra followed by, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh,
Gujarat, and Chhattisgarh.
Government policies:- Policies favoring globalization, privatization, etc., are one of the
causes of farmer struggles and suicide.
Debt:- Due to a large amount of debt and interest accumulation is leading to farmer
suicide. Debt is one of the main reasons for extreme acts of suicide.
Deadly Droughts:- Inadequate rainfalls and poor irrigation systems lead to droughts,
crop failure. Due to a decline in crop yield, food reduces, and suicide rates in the
affected region increase.
Government subsidies and funds:- Most of the grants and funds rotate between seed
and fertilizer dealers, circulating between the government, banks, large and small
corporations, and politicians. None of it goes to the farmers, and the loans they receive
are less than 50,000, aggravating their woes.
Suicide Ideas:- Social issues, interpersonal and family problems, financial difficulties,
and mental illness are also reasons for suicide. The huge percentages are also because
suicide is also a socially accepted way to deal with problems.
Genetically Modified Crops:- GM crop seeds are more expensive than ordinary seeds
like Bt Cotton seeds are twice as costly as regular cotton seeds. Due to these prices,
farmers take larger loans from private lenders with extreme interest or sell their products
at lower costs. It causes debt and economic stress, ultimately leading to suicide.
There are various reasons and motivations, with more than one cause that leads to
suicide, but the primary reason is the inability to repay loans. The most three common
characteristics leading to a high suicide rate in the Indian States are:-
● cash crops such as coffee and cotton
● 'marginal' farms of less than one hectare
● debts of 300 Rupees or more.
Aside from these, debt, environment, low produce prices, poor irrigation, increase in the
cost of cultivation, private money lenders, use of chemical fertilizer, and crop failure.
Debt rates as significantly higher than fertilizers and crop failure.
The highest number of farmer suicides took place in 2004 of 18,241. In 2011, 14,207
farmers committed suicide. In 2010, 15,963 farmers in India committed suicide. From
1995 to 2013, a total of 296,438 Indian farmers committed suicide. Farmer's suicide rate
in India range between 1.4 and 1.8 per 100,000 total population. However, figures in
2017 and 2018 showed an average of more than 10 suicides daily.
Maharashtra Bill to regulate farmer loan terms, 2008
The State government of Maharashtra, one of the most farmer suicide-affected lands,
passed the Money Lending (Regulation) Act, 2008 to manage all private money lending
to farmers. The bill set maximum, allowed interest rates on any loans to farmers, placing
it to be slightly above the money lending rate by the Reserve Bank of India, and it also
covered pending loans.
Kerala Farmers' Debt Relief Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2012
Kerala, in 2012, amended the Kerala Farmers' Debt Relief Commission Act, 2006 to
enhance advantages to all or any distressed farmers with loans through 2011. It cited
continued farmer suicides as a motivation.
2013 diversify income sources package
In 2013, the Government of India started a Special Livestock Sector and Fisheries
Package for farmers in suicide-prone territories of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra,
Karnataka, and Kerala. The package was intended to diversify the earnings sources of
farmers. The total aid package consisted of ₹912 million.
The various struggles faced by farmers like debt, increased costs lead to farmer
suicides. Response organized by the government and relief packages have generally
been ineffective, and more steps need to be taken to better help farmers.