The most profound question which comes to a rational mind is “What makes a farmer in India to the gallows?” There have been numerous cases of farmland suicides committed by farmers across India, be it Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Falling back on various studies and statistics obtained by numerous NGO’s , the problem of farmer suicides are taking a toll on our socio-demographic culture, with more than 80 Crore people relying on farm for their livelihood, the question remains unanswered.
As per a recent study, about 1100 farmers commit suicide per year, which contributes to 11% of the total suicide rate in India. These statistics are exponentially adding up to the dilemma of deteriorating lifestyle of agrarian economy along with unwarranted urbanization due to mass exodus of the populace from our villages.
Government schemes have not cast its shadow on the rising suicide rates in our villages. India is one of the few countries which sit on the top of the ladder when it comes to giving farm subsidies. By any estimation, India gives $ 56 Billion as farm subsidy to its ailing agriculture sector which caters to about 120 million people. By same count, looking at west we learn that US farm subsidy rate stands at $20 Billion for 20 million populace associated with agriculture, for the European Union the statistics stand at 58 Billion Euros catering to 27 million farm populace.
The problem of farmers’ suicide has been enigmatic since last few years and there could be number of reasons which one can presume.
Firstly, the main grass route cause can be attributed to lack of funds in the hands of farmers which lead them to get manipulated by unorganized moneylender community and thereby get embroiled in the vicious circle of loan repayment. Many farmers don’t have a direct access to Bank loans and quite often, many of them are not eligible for taking loans from banks due to a collateral amount charged by the banking sector. Lack of bank accounts has also contributed majorly towards this growing menace.
Thus, the farmer falls into a dept trap knowingly so as to sustain his livelihood and thus continue farming.
Secondly, lack of crop failure due to frequent climate change has also been a major cause for growing number of farm suicides. With mass urbanization and cutting of enriched farmland and growing of concrete jungles, climate has shown its fury on agriculture, a case in point has been unwarranted rain in the month of Feb-March ’15, damaging 8.5 million hectares of standing crop in 14 states including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The icing on the cake has been the compensation part. Consider an example, a farmer in Uttar Pradesh has lost 50% of his wheat harvest to unprecedented hail which occurred in Feb –March’15, he was expecting an income of Rs 2 Lakh for his crop. Additionally, he is already debt ridden to the tune of Rs 3.5 Lakh for which he would now be compensated between Rs 100 – Rs 5000. This is the predicament of a farmer in India, no wonder we are experiencing a mass exodus of our farm community towards urban civilizations thus putting pressure on our cities infrastructure (which again is altogether another problematic era).
Lastly, Lack of technology in farm sector has been a key factor in aggravating the problem of farm suicides. Though we have been hearing a birth of second green revolution in near future by use of genetically modified crops and frequent usage of farm machinery thus adding to productivity, the common farmer still has not been able to take advantage of such innovative techniques in farming. This could again be attributed to factors such as high cost of machinery, acceptance to change, lack of training and usage and more so illiteracy of the farmer.
Summing up, what we need is an all round effort to bring this menace to an end and raise hopes for people struggling to make a living in our farmlands, if not, then we should be prepared for more of Gajendra Singh’s taking their lives out of frustration and thus demonstrating the real plight of a farmer in this country and Political parties thriving on the subject thus taking political mileage out of proportions.
By: Sanjeev Jaggi
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