Farmer deaths on the rise since 2008

Not all suicides are because of crop failure or debt, claims Agriculture minister

A total of 6,604 persons involved in farming or agricultural activity, of whom 1,122 are women, have killed themselves since 2008.

According to the statistics available with the State Crime Records Bureau, there has been an increase in the farmers’ deaths in the last three years - since the BJP rule began in the State.

The suicides went up by 545 in 2009 compared to 2008 and 303 more farmers ended their lives in 2010 compared to 2009. The number of women who killed themselves went up by 69 and 90, year-on-year, respectively. Also, among these are 11 girls and nine boys within the age of 14.

Varied reasons
According to experts, varied reasons could be attributed to the increasing farmer deaths in the State - from land acquisition to power shortage, water scarcity, and poor reach of
institutional credit. And drought has only rubbed in, leading to crop failure in several districts.

In 2008, a total of 1,737 farmers committed suicide, of whom 298 were women and in 2009, the total was 2,282 with 367 of them being women apart from six boys.
As many as 2,585 farmers ended their lives in 2010 of whom 457 were women, 11 were girls and three were boys.

When contacted, Agriculture Minister Umesh Katti, said: “...Our State has one of the best policies for the farming sector and we are doing everything to improve the condition of our farmers. There could be a lot of reasons for these deaths and not all of them might be because of crop failure or debt.”

And according to the State’s data, not more than 900 farmers have died for the aforementioned reasons.

Pointing out that the State gives Rs one lakh as compensation to farmers who commit suicide on account of debt crisis, (only institutional debt), Katti said: “A good farmer, in my opinion will never kill himself. There are a lot of people who do such things just for money. One must also look at the middlemen.”

The government, he said, has to its credit of disbursing agricultural loans at the lowest rates in the country –– one per cent –– and that if a farmer repays the loan within the stipulated period he gets an incentive of two per cent.

“Until we came to power, disbursal of farm loans was between Rs 2,500 crore and Rs 3,000 crore. But now it is Rs 7,000 crore per annum,” Katti said, adding that the government also provides subsidies for all types of seeds and declares adequate support price for the crops.

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