Polls won, waivers announced, but govt has no data on farmer suicides

The last NCRB report published in 2016 said a farmer committed suicide every hour in the country

By Jitendra
Published: Thursday 20 December 2018
Credit: Getty Images

Three states have announced loan waivers for farmers, Congress has won elections based on this poll promise, the agrarian crisis has intensified owing to deficit rainfall and the country has witnessed several droughts, but the Centre has no information on how many farmers have killed themselves in the last three years.

Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh told Parliament that they don’t have any data on farmer suicide since 2016. Singh said this in reply to a question asked by Member of Parliament Dinesh Trivedi on December 18.

The latest data, released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in 2016, showed that till 2015 every hour a farmer committed suicide. It highlighted a spurt of 42 per cent in farmer suicides between 2014 and 2015.

This is when, according to the 2014 National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report, 52 per cent of agricultural households in the country are in debt. The average debt of such households is Rs 47,000 and their annual income is Rs 36,972, the report adds.

Since then India has been subjected to deficit monsoon rainfall, which has led to an agrarian crisis. Also, 2015 and 2016 were consecutive drought years. And yet, we have no data on how many farmers the crisis pushed over the edge. Media reports claim that the government asked the NCRB to not publish this data.

The NCRB data showed that in 2015, 12,602 farm-related people committed suicide. Of these, 8,007 were farmers/cultivators and 4,595 agricultural labourers.

That year, seven states had seen 11,026 of the total 12,602 suicides or 87 per cent of total suicides. Maharashtra had witnessed most of these followed by Karnataka, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.

Agriculture is still the mainstay for the Indian economy that engages 58 per cent of its total workforce and  contributes 14 per cent to the country’s GDP. The suicide trend only goes to show how the farm sectors has been ignored by the government.

Also, suicides in the farming sector had increased by 2 per cent from 12,360 in 2014 to 12, 602 in 2015 and in 2013, the number was 11,772, showed NCRB data.

Moreover, the states that headed towards industrial development saw more suicides. Farming-related issues and piling debt caused 60 per cent of suicides.

Singh also claimed that the government had already implemented most of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee to deal with farmers’ distress. He added that 192 out of total 201 recommendations had been implemented and that has led to an increase in food grain production.

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