Agrarian crisis returns to haunt Kerala, 3 end lives

Signs of the crisis are too evident to ignore. A large number of farmers seem to be trapped in debt from toe to neck. The very first week of November witnessed suicide of three farmers here. Many of the farmers who are in debt trap are those who are doing ginger cultivation on leased land in Kodagu and Banana cultivation at home simultaneously. While reasons of the last crisis was believed to be the fall in prices of coffee and pepper, this time it is the crashing prices of ginger and banana which is causing the concern.

Suicides
The first farmer to commit suicide was C P Sasidharan (55) a small scale farmer from Mothakkara who died on November 2. According to his relatives he had incurred huge losses during the last few months because of the fall in prices of ginger and had a debt of around Rs. 2 lakhs. Another farmer Asokan (45) from Pulpalli followed Sasidharan and committed suicide under similar conditions. Sasidharan had taken a loan of Rs 2 lakh from self help groups and other financiers to cultivate banana and ginger on his leased land.
The last to commit suicide was Varghese alias Raju (48), a native of Thirkkaipetta on November 7. He had been cultivating ginger in Kudagu on leased land and banana at his own farm in Wayanad. He had debts to the tune of Rs 3 lakh.

Reasons of crisis
Speaking to Deccan Herald on the present crisis, A C  Varkey, president of Farmers’ Relief Forum, an independent organisation of farmers said the price of Ginger had currently fallen to less than Rs 500 a sack (sixty kg) currently from Rs 1300/sack a few months ago.
Ginger prices had skyrocketed an year ago which resulted in a large number of farmers starting Ginger cultivation. Farmers took loans from banks and many of them also leased lands in neighbouring Kodagu and started Ginger cultivation along with banana cultivation in Wayanad. Former MLA and leader of Krashaka Sanghom, (another organisation of farmers) leader Krishnaprasad said farmers are running huge losses at current prices of Ginger and Banana. As many banks are limiting agricultural loans to Rs 40,000 an acre, farmers have to take other type of loans at high interest. He demanded that along with providing debt relief to farmers, steps needed to be taken to start agro-industries in the region to produce value added products and save farmers from middlemen.

Govt stops recovery from defaulters
The Kerala government has banned all recovery actions against farmers in Wayanad district who defaulted loans following the agrarian crisis there. This was announced by chief minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday, reports DHNS from Thiruvanthapuram.
Chandy said a three member high level official committee headed by additional chief secretary K Jayakumar has been asked to study the agrarian crisis and farmers’ suicide and submit their report to the government in a week. The committee has also been asked to review the implementation of Wayanda package which had been executed by the government earlier.

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