Farmers Suiciding In India Essay In Kannada

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Compiled by Nandini Voice for The Deprived For a country which has the capacity to produce three crops in a year, the ceaseless cases of farmer suicides are an ignominious fact. The statics of the deaths are so high that there is nothing personal or moving left in them.

For a country which has the capacity to produce three crops in a year, the ceaseless cases of farmer suicides are an ignominious fact. The statics of the deaths are so high that there is nothing personal or moving left in them. The death count of a disaster raises more sympathy than the suicides of the Indian farmers. It has become more of a factor to lash the ruling

count of a disaster raises more sympathy than the suicides of the Indian farmers. It has become more of a factor to lash the ruling party by the opposition than a warning sign in Indian agriculture to actually do something.

However, not all are insensitive to the agrarian plight. Nandini Voice for The Deprived , a Chennai based NGO  organized an All India Essay Competition for the citizens on  “How to prevent farmers’ suicides in India?” to look critically into the issue.

Over 5,600 Farmers Committed Suicide In 2014

Farmer Suicides Have Come Down Under Modi Government

Here are some reasons and a few solutions to the problem as suggested by the participants in the competition.

Problems of Indian agriculture:

1. Agriculture is unorganized activity today

Indian agriculture is largely an unorganized sector. No systematic institutional and organizational planning is involved in cultivation, irrigation, harvesting etc.

Institutional finances are not adequately available and minimum purchase price fixed by the government do not reach the poorest farmer.

2.Most farms are small and economically unfeasible

The ground reality is that majority of the farmers in India own as little as two acres of land.  Cultivation on such small area is not economically feasible. Such small farmers have become vulnerable in Indian agriculture.

In many cases, the farmers are not even the owners of the land, which makes profitable cultivation impossible because a significant portion of the earnings goes towards the payment of lease for the land.

3. Middlemen and economic exploitation of farmers

Exploitation by the middlemen is the reason put forth for not getting the best price for the produce of the agriculturists.

The government should promote the plan called “ulavar santhai” (Farmers Market), where the farmers can directly sell their products at reasonable price to the consumers.

 

4.Government programs do not reach small farmers

The government has implemented agricultural debt. waiver and debt. relief scheme in 2008 to benefit over 36 million farmers. Direct agricultural loan to stressed farmers under so called Kisan credit Card were also covered under this scheme.

However, most of the subsidies and welfare schemes announced by the Central and State governments do not reach the poor farmers in Indian agriculture. On the contrary, only big landlords are benefited by those schemes.

 5. High indebtedness and exorbitant interest rates

The root cause of farmers taking their lives is the increase in their indebtedness and debt burden.

Exorbitant interest rates have to be declared illegal and the government has to take strict measures against greedy money lenders.

Easy access to institutional credits have to reach the small and marginal farmers, without cumbersome procedures.

 6.Real estate mafia

We can see even fertile land best suited for agricultural purpose being sold to real estate people, who prepare plots and give attractive advertisements to sell at exorbitant price. There is need to implement strict measures to prevent land grabbing.

 

 

Solutions to the problem:

1. Multiple crops

Cultivation of multi crops such as coconut, turmeric, pineapple, banana, apple, papaya, ginger will yield profitable results to the farmers.

2. Special agricultural zone

Just like industrial zone, there is an urgent need to establish special agricultural zones, where only farming and agriculture related activity should be allowed.

3. Need to modernize agriculture

By introducing farm techniques which guarantee a definite success, an increase in youth participation on agricultural fields is economically possible.  This can be attained only by implementing new technologies. Research efforts should continue for the production of crops with higher yield potential and better resistance to pests in Indian agriculture.

Technological advancement in agriculture should be passed down to the small farmers.

Where the existing crops would not do well under drought and weather conditions, the farmers should be helped to shift to cultivating crops that would be easy and economical to cultivate.

 

4. Educate the farmers

Many farmers in India are not aware of crop rotation. Though education in urban areas has improved a lot, the government has ignored the same in rural areas in general and in agriculture sector  in particular.  This is the reason why farmers are not  adequately aware of the various schemes provided by the government.

 5. Clubbing of small fields may help

Several farmers who own small piece of land can join together and combine all small fields into one large chunk.  This may help in variety of ways.

Read About Maharashtra Initiatives On Farmer’s Suicide

Narendra Modi’s Initiative For Poor People, Farmers, Small Businesses, Women & Senior Citizens

 6.Need for meaningful crop insurance policies

Crop insurance is must and the claim should be settled easily under the supervision of the district collectors.

Traditional crop insurance depends on the direct measurement of the damage suffered by a farmer to determine his/her payout.  However, field loss assessment is often not feasible or expensive, since most of our farmers are small holders.

Index based insurance, on the other hand, responds to defined parameter.

Index based insurance has the advantages that it is transparent and all the insurers within the defined geographical area are treated equally.  It has low operational and transnational costs, while also ensuring quick payouts.

7. .Need for better water management

Irrigation facilities that are currently available do not cover the entire cultivable land.  Apart from the areas where perennial rivers flow, most of the agricultural fields do not have irrigation facility.

In most cases, it is not the lack of water but the lack of proper water management that causes water shortage. Improved modern methods of rain water harvesting should be developed.

Water management can be made more effective through interstate co-operation on water resources, where surplus water from perennial rivers can be diverted to the needy areas.

Connecting the rivers throughout the country will solve this problem in Indian agriculture. Construction of National Waterways will improve the irrigation facility, which in turn can save the farmers if the monsoon would fail.

 

8. Alternate source of income for farmers

Small farmers should be encouraged to develop alternative sources of income and the government should take up the responsibility for providing training to the farmers to acquire new skills.

In drought affected areas, the government should start alternative employment generation programs to reduce the dependence on agriculture as the sole source of income. Such programs should be standardized.

Farmers should be enabled to divide their activities into three parts.  One for regular crop production, one for animal husbandry or fisheries and another for timber production.  These activities complement each other and also alternate sources of income of farmers can be ensured.

9. Need for national weather risk management system/disease alert system

Facilitating national weather risk management system that alerts farmers when there is a danger of extreme weather, would go a long way in reducing losses in Indian agriculture.

Value added services like pest and disease alert applications, in combination with the weather forecast would equip the farmers to handle and manage their crops better.

For example, Water Watch Cooperative, a Netherlands based organization, has developed a disease alert system that sends an alarm to farmers, if the probability of a pest/disease would be detected.

Similarly,  systems that detect the amount of water to be provided to a field based on the field water content, biomass, and rainfall probability, would aid in the optimization of water provision to the crop and ensure efficient crop management.

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In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau of India reported 5,650 farmer suicides.[1] The highest number of farmer suicides were recorded in 2004 when 18,241 farmers committed suicide.[2] The farmers suicide rate in India has ranged between 1.4 and 1.8 per 100,000 total population, over a 10-year period through 2005.[3]

India is an agrarian country with around 70% of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture. Farmer suicides account for 11.2% of all suicides in India.[1] Activists and scholars have offered a number of conflicting reasons for farmer suicides, such as monsoon failure, high debt burdens, government policies, publicmental health, personal issues and family problems.[4][5][6] There are also accusation of states manipulating the data on farmer suicides.[7]

History[edit]

Historical records relating to frustration, revolts and high mortality rates among farmers in India, particularly cash crop farmers, date back to the 19th century.[11][12] However, suicides due to the same were rare.[13] The high land taxes of 1870s, payable in cash regardless of the effects of frequent famines on farm output or productivity, combined with colonial protection of usury, money lenders and landowner rights, contributed to widespread penury and frustration among cotton and other farmers, ultimately leading to the Deccan Riots of 1875-1877.[13][14] The British government enacted the Deccan Agriculturists’ Relief Act in 1879, to limit the interest rate charged by money lenders to Deccan cotton farmers, but applied it selectively to areas that served British cotton trading interests.[13][15] Rural mortality rates, in predominantly agrarian British India, were very high between 1850 and the 1940s.[16][17] However, starvation related deaths far exceeded those by suicide, the latter being officially classified under "injuries".[18] The death rate classified under "injuries", in 1897, was 79 per 100,000 people in Central Provinces of India and 37 per 100,000 people in Bombay Presidency.[19]

Ganapathi and Venkoba Rao analyzed suicides in parts of Tamil Nadu in 1966. They recommended that the distribution of agricultural organo-phosphorus compounds be restricted.[20] Similarly, Nandi et al. in 1979 noted the role of freely available agricultural insecticides in suicides in rural West Bengal and suggested that their availability be regulated.[21] Hegde studied rural suicides in villages of northern Karnataka over 1962 to 1970, and stated the suicide incidence rate to be 5.7 per 100,000 population.[22] Reddy, in 1993, reviewed high rates of farmer suicides in Andhra Pradesh and its relationship to farm size and productivity.[23]

Reporting in popular press about farmers' suicides in India began in mid-1990s, particularly by Palagummi Sainath.[24] In the 2000s, the issue gained international attention and a variety of Indian government initiatives.[25][26]

National Crime Records Bureau, an office of the Ministry of Home Affairs Government of India, has been collecting and publishing suicide statistics for India since the 1950s, as annual Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India reports. It started separately collecting and publishing farmers suicide statistics from 1995.[27]

States affected[edit]

As of 2017, farmer suicides have occurred in large numbers in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand.[28]

Tamma Carleton, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, compared suicide and climate data, concluding that climate change in India may have "a strong influence" on suicides during the growing season, triggering more than 59,000 suicides in 30 years. [29]

More than 23,000 farmers have committed suicide in the state of Maharashtra between 2009 and 2016.[30]

Reasons[edit]

Various reasons have been offered to explain why farmers commit suicide in India, including: floods, drought, debt, use of genetically modified seed, public health, use of lower quantity pesticides due to less investments producing a decreased yield. There is no consensus[31][32][33] on what the main causes might be but studies show suicide victims are motivated by more than one cause, on average three or more causes for committing suicide.[34] Panagariya states, "farm-related reasons get cited only approximately 25 percent of the time as reasons for suicide" and "studies do consistently show greater debt burden and greater reliance on informal sources of credit" amongst farmers who commit suicide.[34]

Reasons for farmers suicides.
(in 2002)[34]
Percent
(of suicides)
Failure of crops16.84
Other reasons (e.g. chit fund)15.04
Family problems with spouse, others13.27
Chronic illness9.73
Marriage of daughters5.31
Political affiliation4.42
Property disputes2.65
Debt burden2.65
Price crash2.65
Borrowing too much (e.g. for house construction)2.65
Losses in non-farm activities1.77
Failure of bore well0.88
Note: "Reasons given by close relatives and friends.
Every case cited more than one reason."[34]

A study conducted in 2014, found that there are three specific characteristics associated with high-risk farmers: "those that grow cash crops such as coffee and cotton; those with 'marginal' farms of less than one hectare; and those with debts of 300 Rupees or more." The study also found that the Indian states in which these three characteristics are most common had the highest suicide rates and also accounted for "almost 75% of the variability in state-level suicides."[35][36]

A 2012 study, did a regional survey on farmers suicide in rural Vidarbha (Maharashtra) and applied a Smith's Saliency method to qualitatively rank the expressed causes among farming families who had lost someone to suicide.[37] The expressed reasons in order of importance behind farmer suicides were – debt, alcohol addiction, environment, low produce prices, stress and family responsibilities, apathy, poor irrigation, increased cost of cultivation, private money lenders, use of chemical fertilizers and crop failure.[37] In other words, debt to stress and family responsibilities were rated as significantly higher than fertilizers and crop failure. In a different study in the same region in 2006, indebtedness (87%) and deterioration in the economic status (74%) were found to be major risk factors for suicide.[38]

Studies dated 2004 through 2006, identified several causes for farmers suicide, such as insufficient or risky credit systems, the difficulty of farming semi-arid regions, poor agricultural income, absence of alternative income opportunities, a downturn in the urban economy which forced non-farmers into farming, and the absence of suitable counselling services.[31][39][40] In 2004, in response to a request from the All India Biodynamic and Organic Farming Association, the Mumbai High Court required the Tata Institute to produce a report on farmer suicides in Maharashtra, and the institute submitted its report in March 2005.[41][42] The survey cited "government's lack of interest, the absence of a safety net for farmers, and lack of access to information related to agriculture as the chief causes for the desperate condition of farmers in the state."[41]

An Indian study conducted in 2002, indicated an association between victims engaging in entrepreneurial activities (such as venturing into new crops, cash crops, and following market trends) and their failure in meeting expected goals due to a range of constraints.[43][44]

Drought[edit]

As much as 79.5% of India's farmland relies on flooding during monsoon season, so inadequate rainfall can cause droughts, making crop failure more common.[45][46] In regions that have experienced droughts, crop yields have declined, and food for cattle has become scarcer.[47] Agricultural regions that have been affected by droughts have subsequently seen their suicide rates increase.[48]

New Economic Policy[edit]

Left leaning economists like Utsa Patnaik, Jayati Ghosh and Prabhat Patnaik suggest[49][50] that structural changes in the macro-economic policy of Indian Government that favoured privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation is the root cause of farmer suicides. Others[51][52] dispute such views.

GM crops[edit]

A number of social activist groups and studies proposed a link between genetically modified crops and farmer suicides.[39]Bt cotton (Bacillus thuringiensis cotton) was claimed to be responsible for farmer suicides.[53] The Bt cotton seeds cost nearly twice as much as ordinary ones. The higher costs forced many farmers into taking ever larger loans, often from private moneylenders charging exorbitant interest rates (60% a year). The moneylenders force farmers to sell their cotton to them at a price lower than it fetches on the market. According to activists, this created a source of debt and economic stress, ultimately suicides, among farmers. Increasing costs in farming associated with decreasing yields even with use of BT cotton seeds are often quoted cause of distress among farmers in central India.[54] Scholars claim that this Bt cotton theory made certain assumptions and ignored field reality.[55]

In 2008, a report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute, an agriculture policy think tank based in Washington DC, noted that there was an absence of data relating to "numbers on the actual share of farmers committing suicide who cultivated cotton, let alone Bt cotton."[39][56] In order to evaluate the "possible (and hypothetical)"[56] existence of a connection the study employed a "second-best" assessment of evidence relating to farmer suicides firstly, and to the effects of Bt cotton secondly.[56] The analysis revealed that there was no "clear general relationship between Bt cotton and farmer suicides"[57] but also stated that it could not reject the "potential role of Bt cotton varieties in the observed discrete increase in farmer suicides in certain states and years, especially during the peak of 2004 in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra."[58] The report also noted that farmer suicides predate the official commercial introduction of Bt cotton by Monsanto Mahyco in 2002 (and its unofficial introduction by Navbharat Seeds in 2001) and that such suicides were a fairly constant portion of the overall national suicide rate since 1997.[39][59] The report noted that while Bt cotton may have been a factor in specific suicides, the contribution was likely marginal compared to socio-economic factors.[39][59] Elsewhere,[3] Gruere et al. discuss the introduction and increase in use of Bt cotton in the state of Madhya Pradesh since 2002, and the observed drop in total suicides among that state's farmers in 2006. They then question whether the impact of the increase in use of Bt cotton on farmers suicide in Madhya Pradesh has been to improve or worsen the situation.[3]

In 2011, a review of the evidence regarding the relationship between Bt cotton and farmers' suicides in India was published in the Journal of Development Studies, also by researchers from IFPRI, which found that "Available data show no evidence of a 'resurgence' of farmer suicides. Moreover, Bt cotton technology has been very effective overall in India."[60] Matin Qaim finds that Bt cotton is controversial in India, irrespective of the scholarly evidence. Anti-biotech activist groups in India repeat their claim that there is evidence of link between Bt cotton and farmers suicides, a claim that is perpetuated by mass media. This linking of farmers suicide and biotech industry has led to negative opinions in public policy making process.[61]

Stone[55] suggests that the arrival and expansion of GM cotton led to a campaign of misinformation, by all sides, exacerbating the farmer's situation; activists have fuelled the persistence of a legend of failure and rejection of Bt cotton with sensational claims of livestock death and farmer suicide, while the other side has been incorrectly pronouncing Bt cotton a major success based on literature that is actually inconclusive. The cotton cash crop farmer's situation is complex and continues to evolve, suggests Stone.[55] Gilbert, in a 2013 article published in Nature, states, "contrary to popular myth, the introduction in 2002 of genetically modified Bt cotton is not associated with a rise in suicide rates among Indian farmers".[62]

In another 2014 review, Ian Plewis states, "the available data does not support the view that farmer suicides have increased following the introduction of Bt cotton. Taking all states together, there is evidence to support the hypothesis that the reverse is true: male farmer suicide rates have actually declined after 2005 having been increasing before then".[63][64]

Suicide idea[edit]

Patel et al. found[65] that southern Indian states have ten times higher rates of suicides than some northern states. This difference, they claim, is not because of misclassification of a person's death. The most common cause for suicide in South India are a combination of social issues, such as interpersonal and family problems, financial difficulties, and pre-existing mental illness. Suicidal ideation is as culturally accepted in south India as in some high-income countries. The high suicide rates in southern states of India may be, suggest Patel el al.,[65] in part because of social acceptance of suicide as a method to deal with difficulties. Suicide ideation among surviving family members of farmers' suicide victims is another worry. Recent study shows that almost a third of suicide survivors (family members left behind) had suicide ideation in one month prior to assessment.[66]

State government field surveys[edit]

The Government of Maharashtra, concerned about the highest total number of farmer suicides among its rural populations, commissioned its own study into reasons. At its behest, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai[67] did field research and found the top causes of farmers suicides to be: debt, low income and crop failure, family issues such as illness and inability to pay celebration expenses for daughter's marriage, lack of secondary income occupations and lack of value-added opportunities.[68]

Statistics[edit]

The National Crime Records Bureau of India reported in its 2012 annual report, that 135,445 people committed suicide in India, of which 13,755 were farmers (11.2%).[70] Of these, 5 out of 29 states accounted for 10,486 farmers suicides (76%) – Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.[1]

In 2011, a total of 135,585 people committed suicide, of which 14,207 were farmers.[71] In 2010, 15,963 farmers in India committed suicide, while total suicides were 134,599.[72] From 1995 to 2013, a total of 296,438 Indian farmers committed suicide.[8] During the same period, about 9.5 million people died per year in India from other causes including malnutrition, diseases and suicides that were non-farming related, or about 171 million deaths from 1995 to 2013.[73]

In 2012, the state of Maharashtra, with 3,786 farmers' suicides, accounted for about a quarter of the all India's farmer suicides total (13,754).[1] From 2009 to 2016, a total of 25,613 farmers committed suicide in the state.[74]

Farmer suicides rates in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh – two large states of India by size and population – have been about 10 times lower than Maharashtra, Kerala and Pondicherry.[75][76] In 2012, there were 745 farmer suicides in Uttar Pradesh, a state with an estimated population of 205.43 million.[77] In 2014, there were eight farmer suicides in Uttar Pradesh.[78]

According to IFFRI study number of suicides during 2005–09 in Gujarat 387, Kerala 905, Punjab 75 and Tamil Nadu 26.[79] While 1802 farmers committed suicide in Chhattisgarh in 2009 and 1126 in 2010, its farmers suicide dropped to zero in 2011, leading to accusations of data manipulation.[80]

According to the 2012 statistics, from the National Crime Records Bureau, the farmer suicides statistics are as follows (Note: The NCRB lists suicides in the different employment categories, but it is not necessary that farming or crop-failure is the cause of the suicides listed in the "farmer" category):[81]

As per National Crime Records Bureau, the number of suicides by farmers and farm labourers increased to 12,360 in 2014, against 11,772 in 2013.[82] Of these suicides, 5,650 were farmers suicides.[83]

Farmer suicides in the Indian states (2012)

StateTotal farmer suicides (Not normalised for different populations of different states)
Maharashtra
Andhra Pradesh
Karnataka
Madhya Pradesh
Kerala
Uttar Pradesh
Gujarat
Tamil Nadu
Assam
Haryana
Rajasthan
Odisha
Jharkhand
Punjab
Bihar
Himachal Pradesh
Sikkim
Tripura
Uttarakhand
Arunachal Pradesh
Meghalaya
Mizoram
Jammu & Kashmir
Chhattisgarh
Goa

Farmer suicides rate per 100,000 people in the state (2012)

StateFarmer suicides rate per 100,000 people (Top 25 states)
Maharashtra
Karnataka
Kerala
Sikkim
Andhra Pradesh
West Bengal
Madhya Pradesh
INDIA AVERAGE
Assam
Haryana
Mizoram
Gujarat
Arunachal Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Tripura
Himachal Pradesh
Rajasthan
Nagaland
Meghalaya
Uttar Pradesh
Jharkhand
Odisha
Punjab
Uttarakhand
Jammu & Kashmir

Farmer suicides as a % of total suicides in the state (2012)

StateFarmer suicides as a % of total suicides
Maharashtra
Andhra Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Karnataka
Kerala
Madhya Pradesh
Assam
Sikkim
Haryana
Jharkhand
Bihar
Arunachal Pradesh
Gujarat
Meghalaya
Punjab
Mizoram
Rajasthan
Himachal Pradesh
Uttarakhand
Tamil Nadu
Odisha
Jammu & Kashmir
Tripura
Goa
Chhattisgarh

All India figures for Farmer suicides from 1995 to 2015

YearTotal farmer suicides (Not normalised for different populations of different states)
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

Farmers versus other professions[edit]

Patel et al., using a representative survey sample based statistical study from 2001 and 2003, extrapolated likely suicide patterns in 2010 for India. They claim suicide deaths in India among unemployed individuals and individuals in professions other than agricultural work were, collectively, about three times more frequent than they were in agricultural labourers and landowning cultivators.[65] Even across professions in rural areas, Patel et al. find suicide among agricultural workers (including farmers) in India is not more frequent than any other profession.[65]

The suicide incidence rate in India, on 100,000 farmers basis, is unclear. All estimates are speculative, because actual total number of farmers by state or India in each year are not available. Farm suicides per 100,000 farmers can be reliably calculated for 2001, because accurate data on number of farmers in the country and states is available for 2001 from the Census of India. The farm suicide rate was 12.9 suicides per 100,000 farmers, which was higher than the general suicide rate at 10.6 for 2001 in India.[86] By gender, the suicide rate was 16.2 male farmer suicides per 100,000 male farmers compared to 12.5 male suicides per 100,000 for general population. Among women, the suicide rate was 6.2 female farmer suicides per 100,000 female farmers compared to 8.5 female suicides per 100,000 for general population.[86]

Total number of farmers[edit]

Annual farmers' suicide incidence rate data on 100,000 farmers basis, depend on estimated total number of farmers for that year. Estimates for total number of farmers in India vary widely.[87][88] Some count the total number of cultivators, some include cultivators and agricultural laborers in their definition of total farmers, while others include anyone engaged in any form of farming and agriculture activity.[88] Estimates for total number of farmers in India, for 2011, accordingly range from 95.8 million (8%) to 263 million (22%) to 450 million (38%), out of a total population of over 1.2 billion.[87] Others[89] estimate the total number of farmers in India to be about 600 million (50% of total population). With about 14,000 suicides in 2011 by those engaged in farming and agricultural activities,[90][91] the different estimates of total farmers has led to different suicide incidence rate estimates on per 100,000 farmers basis. Additionally, the reliability of official statistics has been questioned. K. Nagaraj suggests that official data may be overestimating the number of total farmers in India, and undercounting the total number of farmer suicides every year.[88] Tom Brass, in contrast, suggests that official census and surveys in India systematically underestimate the total number of people engaged in agriculture in India.[92]

Responses to farmers' suicides[edit]

The government appointed a number of inquiries to look into the causes of farmers suicide and farm related distress in general. Krishak Ayog (National Farmer Commission) visited all suicide prone farming regions of India, then in 2006 published three reports with its recommendations.[93] Subsequently former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Vidarbha in 2006 and promised a package of ₹110 billion (about $2.4 billion). The families of farmers who had committed suicide were also offered an ex gratia grant of ₹100,000 (US$1,500) by the government, though this amount was changed several times.[94]

2006 relief package[edit]

In 2006, the Government of India identified 31 districts in the four states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala with high relative incidence of farmers suicides.[95] A special rehabilitation package was launched to mitigate the distress of these farmers. The package provided debt relief to farmers, improved supply of institutional credit, improved irrigation facilities, employed experts and social service personnel to provide farming support services, and introduced subsidiary income opportunities through horticulture, livestock, dairy and fisheries. The Government of India also announced an ex-gratia cash assistance from Prime Ministers National Relief Fund to the farmers. Additionally, among other things, the Government of India announced:[95]

  • In the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, that had received considerable mass media news coverage on farmer suicides, all farmer families of Vidarbha in six affected districts of Maharashtra were given a cash sum of ₹05 million (US$77,000) each, to help pay off the debt principal.
  • ₹7.12 billion (US$110 million) in interest owed, as of 30 June 2006, was waived. The burden of payment was shared equally between the Central and the State government.
  • The Government created a special credit vehicle for Vidarbha farmer, to the tune of ₹12.75 billion (US$200 million). Special teams comprising NABARD and banks were deputed to ensure fresh credit starts flowing to all farmers of the region.
  • An allocation of ₹21.77 billion (US$330 million) was made to improve the irrigation infrastructure so that the farmers of Vidarbha region had assured irrigation facilities in the future.

Agricultural debt waiver and debt relief scheme, 2008[edit]

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$10 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.[96]

Regional initiatives[edit]

Various state governments in India have launched their own initiatives to help prevent farmer suicides. The government of Maharashtra set up a dedicated group to deal with farm distress in 2006 known as the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission, based in Amravati.[97] A group to study the Farmers Suicides was also constituted by the Government of Karnataka under the Chairmanship of Dr Veeresh, Former Vice-Chancellor of Agricultural University and Prof Deshpande as member.[98][full citation needed]

Maharashtra Bill to regulate farmer loan terms, 2008[edit]

The State government of Maharashtra, one of the most farmer suicide affected states, passed the Money Lending (Regulation) Act, 2008 to regulate all private money lending to farmers. The bill set maximum not legally allowed interest rates on any loans to farmers, setting it to be slightly above the money lending rate by Reserve Bank of India, and it also covered pending loans.[99]

Maharashtra relief package, 2010[edit]

The State Government of Maharashtra made it illegal, in 2010, for non-licensed moneylenders from seeking loan repayment. The State Government also announced[68] that it will form Village Farmer Self Help Groups to disburse government financed loans, a low rate Crop Insurance program whose premium will be paid 50% by farmer and 50% by government, and the launch of alternate income opportunities such as poultry, dairy, and sericulture for farmers in suicide-prone districts. The government further announced that it will finance a marriage fund under its Samudaik Lagna with ₹10 million (US$150,000) per year per district, for community marriage celebrations, where many couples get married at the same time to help minimise the cost of marriage celebrations – a cause of suicides among farmers as identified by its own study.[68]

Kerala Farmers' Debt Relief Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2012[edit]

Kerala, in 2012, amended the Kerala Farmers' Debt Relief Commission Act, 2006 to extend benefits to all distressed farmers with loans through 2011. It cited continuing farmer suicides as a motivation.[100]

2013 diversify income sources package[edit]

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).[101]

Effectiveness of government response[edit]

The government's response and relief packages have generally been ineffective, misdirected and flawed, states Surinder Sud.[102] 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. The usurious moneylenders continue to offer loans at interest rates between 24 and 50 percent, while income generating potential of the land the farmer works on has remained low and subject to weather conditions.[102] Sud states that the 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.[102] Golait, in a Reserve Bank of India paper,[103]

A group bringing attention to the issue of farmer suicide
Total No of Farmer suicides reported in India per year as NCRBC, India[2][8][9][10]
Crop coverage of bio-tech cotton (also called Bt cotton) and farmer suicides over time in Madhya Pradesh India, before and after the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002[3]
Farmers and total suicide rates per 100,000 people in India[3][69]

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