Farmers Suicides

  • —Farmers’ suicides in the country since 1997 has now touched 1,82,936 by December 2008 (2009 no data was collected being an election year)
  • —16,632 farmers have committed suicide in the country in 2007
  • —Since 2002, the annual average of suicides has increased to 17,366 —Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh– account for just about a third of the country’s population but two-thirds of farmers’ suicides (11,026  in 2007)
  • —8 million people quit farming between the two censuses of 1991 and 2001
  • Farmers suicides reported between —1997-2001 – were 78,737 (or 15,747 a year on average). During the next five years 2002-06 the numbers rose to 87,567 (or 17,513 a year on average-one suicide every 30 min)

Data from National Crime Bureau Records http://www.nrcbr.nic.in

Farmers’ Suicides in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka-NIRD study

The Damage dne: Aid, death and dogma, Christian Aid

“FARMER LEADERS CALL FOR A REJECTION OF BT BRINJAL

New Delhi, October 21st 2009: Terming Bt Brinjal as a Trojan Horse of the biotech industry for the take-over of Indian farming, farmers’ unions across the country called for a rejection of this biotech brinjal and put out a call for the boycott of the agencies seeking to bring it in. This Bt Brinjal is the guise to enslave poor farmers of the country yet again, they said, and demanded that the Indian government stand by the side of ordinary people in this onslaught on our resources and livelihoods.

“This is a product that is both unneeded and undesirable. It is meant to increase the markets of the biotech companies and agencies, though pushed in the name of farmers. If the government truly wants to help farmers, there are scores of other sustainable and appropriate solutions that should be taken urgently to the last farmer in this country”, said Mr Yudhvir Singh, Convenor of the Coordination Committee of Indian Farmers’ Movements.

Mr Kodihalli Chandrasekhar, President, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha( KRRS) pointed out that Monsanto is infamous for its anti-farmer activities the world over. “It is unacceptable that the government, especially Mr Sharad Pawar, the Agriculture Minister, should be putting his faith on this company and its profit-driven technologies even though Monsanto is notorious for jailing farmers and bribing officials elsewhere. The state agriculture universities should be ashamed of partnering with such agencies and for being involved in the ABSP II project, supported by American agencies for their interests. It is high time that these universities, paid by tax payers here, work for the benefit of farmers in India. If the government proceeds with its plans to introduce Bt Brinjal, mass direct actions will be initiated to stop it”.

“The case of Vidarbha and Bt Cotton is an unfortunate illustration about what lies in store for Indian farmers with biotech seeds. Also, look at the fact that with Bt Cotton cultivation, chemical fertilizer use is going up and agencies are recommending higher use too. When on the one hand, we are realizing the negative impacts of chemical fertilizer use, in an age of climate change and with fertilizer shortages abounding, is this the direction that farmers should be pushed towards? Is there a shortage of brinjal in the country and can we solve the food crisis in the country with GM brinjals? It is shocking to see the irrational arguments centred around food crisis for bringing in Bt Brinjal. ”, said Mr Vijay Jawandhia of Shetkari Sanghatan.

These farmer leaders put out a call to all Indian farmers and consumers to reject GM crops/foods and said that the rejection all over Europe and many other countries around the world came through an informed debate and rejection by farmers and consumers.

“There are reports about the Expert Committee’s and GEAC’s unscientific, biased and hasty functioning with regard to clearing this Bt Brinjal for commercial cultivation. It is also becoming clearer that the Expert Committee and GEAC are unreliable and untrustworthy as far as interests of ordinary citizens go. An overwhelming majority of Indians are expressing in numerous ways that they reject GM foods and the government has to heed to democratic voices. Look at Bt Cotton case also – it has been hyped up as a runaway success when the reality is something else on the ground. Many farmers have not been compensated to this day for the losses that they incurred with Bt Cotton”, said Mr Kannaiyan, Organising Secretary of Tamizhaga Vyavasayigal Sangham.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture said, “There are numerous low-cost, safe and sustainable ecological practices available for farmers to control pest damage in a crop like brinjal. It includes intercropping with marigold, coriander etc.; using of pheromone traps for mass trapping of adult moths; mechanical clipping of infested shoots and so on. In such an approach, measures are taken to control egg-laying itself rather than use a poison to control the larva once it appears. In any method that uses a poison to target a population of pests, it is nature’s principle that they will be under selection pressure for building resistance, which they will do so sooner or later. We need farmers to be told about methods that are affordable, sustainable and safe and it is the responsibility of the government to do so than look at false, faulty solutions”.

PRIVATISATION IS THE ENEMY OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Sep 3, 2009 — KZeese

By Vandana Shiva | IPS

The privatisation of the earth’s resources is a recipe for famine and desertification, violence against women, hunger, and, as happens in India, the suicide of farmers, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment.

In this analysis, Shiva writes that until recently water and biodiversity have been commons. Women have been the seed keepers and water keepers in communities. This is the system that privatisation is threatening.

Common access to seed is being destroyed by laws that make it illegal for farmers to manage seeds as a commons and grant the state the power to approve and license varieties and force farmers to seek state approval through “compulsory” registration laws. The result is the destruction of high-quality, reliable, open-pollinated varieties bred and developed by farmers.

Although the links between the growing problem of farmer suicides and their growing dependence on costly purchased external inputs are clear, the Indian government’s only response has been to offer more consumer credit to purchase more external inputs. Women are experts in internal input agriculture, an approach that works with the products of the land to create soil fertility and requires no external.

A permanent agriculture can only be based on the permanence of rights – the rights of the farmers, and the people, not private corporations.

Farmers suicides in Karnataka

BANGALORE, AUGUST 29: Like other states, Karnataka too showing signs of severe agrarian distress in the current financial year. More than 50 farmers committed suicides in less than five months in the current fiscal year.

The BJP government has already declared 86 taluks in 20 districts as drought hit. Standing crops on 16 lakh hectares got damaged on account of deficit rains since June 1. The crop loss in rainfed areas has been estimated at Rs. 720.20 crore and horticultural crops on over 60,000 hectares have been ruined due to scanty rains. In fact, more than 3/4th of lands in the state is rainfed. Only 23 per cent the sowing was depended on irrigation facilities in Karnataka.

Standing food crops and commercial crops got withered in 20 districts following scanty rainfall. The central team visited to the state to said the state’s demand for Rs. 394 crore relief is realistic demand.

According to sources in the Government, as on July end, the highest number of suicide cases has been reported from Shimoga (7), followed by Tumkur – six cases, Belgaum and Hassan – five each, Chikmagalur, Bidar, Davangere, and Bijapur – three each, Chitradurga, Dakshina Kannada – two each and Mysore district – one.

Out of the last nine years, the State has experienced droughts for seve

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n years and this is one of the major reasons for farmers taking extreme step. A large number of farmers committed suicide during the drought period from 2000-01 to 2003-04. As many as 337 suicide cases have been reported in 2008-09.

Despite several steps taken by the State government, farmers suicides continued over the years. Cooperatives have been disbursed loans at three per cent rate of interest. To learn new farming methods, the Government sent 633 farmers to China at a cost of Rs. 423.79 lakhs. The government had given Rs. 1,000 each to small and marginal farmers who are dependent on dry lands farming, officials said.

Hunger pangs

Vandana Shiva

Monday, July 20, 2009 21:23 IST

 The proposed introduction of a Food Security Act by the UPA government is a welcome step. The Right to Food is the basis of the Right to life and Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees the right to life of all Indian citizens.

Given that India has emerged as the capital of hunger, given that per capita consumption was 178 kg in 1991, the beginning of the period of economic reforms, to 155 kg in 200-2003, and daily calorie consumption of the bottom 25 per cent of the population has decreased from 1683 kcal in 1987-88 to 1624 kcal in 2004-05, against a national norm of 2400 and 2011 kcal/day for rural and urban areas respectively, a response on the food in security front is a response to a national emergency.

However, the approach to food security has a number of blindspots and biases. The biggest one is neglecting food production and food producers as a core element of food security, from the household to the national level.

You cannot provide food to people if you do not first ensure that food is produced in adequate quantities. And to ensure that, the livelihood of food producers must be ensured. The right of food producers to produce food is the foundation of food security. This right has internationally evolved through the concept of “food sovereignty”.

Food sovereignty is derived from socio-economic human rights, which include the right to food and the right to produce food for rural communities. Two aspects of food security have disappeared in the current approach — firstly, the right to produce food, and secondly national food security. Our small farmers produce food for the country and have provided a nation of 1.2 billion with food security, and today they themselves are in distress.

The most tragic face of the agrarian crisis the country is facing is the suicides of over 200,000 farmers over the past decade. If our food producers do not survive, where is the nation’s food security? The second reason why India cannot afford to ignore the crisis of our food producers is because our rural communities face a deep crisis of hunger. Globally too, half of the hungry people of the world today are food producers.

This is directly related to the capital intensive, chemical intensive, high external input systems of food production introduced as the Green Revolution, and the second Green Revolution. Farmers must get into debt to buy costly inputs, and indebted farmers must sell what they produce to pay back the debt. Farmers’ suicides too are linked to the same process of indebtedness due to high costs of inputs. The solution to the hunger of producer communities is to shift to low cost sustainable agriculture production based on principles of agro ecology.

This food sovereignty of rural producers addresses hunger of rural communities as well as the hunger of those they feed. And for the same reasons, corporate farming and contract farming are false solutions in the context of the hunger and malnutrition crisis facing the country. As is the corporate takeover of food processing and attempted hijack of food security programmes such as Midday Meal schemes.

Government policies are biased in favour of the corporate sector. The proposal to shift from the PDS system to the food stamp or food voucher systems arises from this corporate bias. The assumption is that corporations will control the food supply, and the government will enable the poor to buy from corporations on the basis of food stamps and vouchers. However, the poor will then be condemned to unhealthy food as has happened in countries like the US.

The present paradigm has the bias that the poor can eat bad food. Good food is only for the rich. However, food security includes the right to safe, healthy, culturally appropriate and economically affordable food. Food stamps cannot guarantee this.

Further, the PDS system is not a one-sided system. It is both a food procurement and food distribution system. The dismantling and substitution by food vouchers will erode the food sovereignty of producers, abandon them to the vagaries of the market and finally destroy their livelihoods.

Adding 650 million rural people to the displaced and hungry will create a hunger problem no government and market can solve. That is why we must strengthen food sovereignty and the PDS system to strengthen food security. The proposal that the Centre will identify the poor goes against the federal structure of India’s Constitution.

As chief minister of Punjab Prakash Singh Badal has said, “States have to go like beggars to the Centre for everything. We have been reduced to glorified municipalities”.
A national food security systems needs to be based on the Constitution.Decentralisation is key to ensuring good and abundant food is produced on every farm and reaches every kitchen. Centralisation and corporate hijack of food go hand in hand. Decentralisation and food sovereignty go hand in hand.

The writer is an environmental activist

A hidden truth of farmer’s suicide

BY CHENNAIVISION AT 27 APRIL, 2009, 2:29 PM

Ludhiana, A glaring and sad aspect of suicides in the agriculture sector in Punjab is that the families of the victims not only had to sell land, but also other assets such as farm machinery, gold to repay their debts.

A government-sponsored study conducted by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Bathinda and Sangrur districts came across 2,990 suicides in the farm sector from 2000 to 2008. Of these, 1757 were farmers and the remaining farm labourers. Of these, 1288 farmers and 671 labourers ended their lives because of debts.

As many as 227 families in Bathinda district sold land worth Rs 7.36 crore to repay their debts. The average value of land sold was Rs 3.24 lakh.

In all 550 farmers committed suicide in Bathinda district due to debt. A majority of them (87 per cent) were small and marginal farmers owning land upto five acres while 13 per cent cases were reported among the medium and large farmers owning more than 10 acres.

The debt ranged from Rs two lakh to Rs 8.20 lakh in case of farmers who committed suicide.

In the case of Sangrur district, 738 farmers committed suicide owing to indebtedness. Of these, the families of 353 farmers sold land worth Rs 19.05 crore to pay off their debt.

The average debt burden in Sangrur was Rs 5.39 lakh. Besides, 58 families of these farmers sold even machinery and other assets.

In Sangrur, 57 per cent farmers were in the marginal category and 29 per cent were small scale farmers. The remaining 14 per cent were medium and large farmers.

The debt against them ranged from Rs 2.8 lakh to Rs 7.87 lakh in Sangrur district.

Average debt against labourers who committed suicide was Rs 70,036 in Sangrur district, and their average income was Rs 19,419.

The average debt against labourers who committed suicide in Bathinda was Rs 47,347 and their average income was Rs 21,710.

In Bathinda district, the most affected villages include Vhauke where 18 farmers ended their lives while in Mandi Kalan 17 farmers and in Pitho 13 farmers committed suicide.

In Sangrur district the most affected village were Andana where 18 suicides were reported followed by Bhutal Kalan (20), Seron (14), Bhattiwala Kalan (11) and Nagara (10).

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Farmer & Agricultural Labourers Suicides due to Indebtedness in the Punjab State — a pilot project of Sangrur and Bathinda districts

A Punjab Agricultural Univeristy report Farmer & Agricultural Labourers Suicides due to Indebtedness in the Punjab State — a pilot project of Sangrur and Bathinda districts, submitted to the Punjab government a few days back has sirred a political storm.
The survey report says that 2,990 farmers had committed suicide in two districts — 1256 in Bathinda and 1634 in Sangrur district — between 2000 and 2008. This report, more or less like a household census, is considered to be the first authentic survey of the spate of suicides among farmers and agricultural workers.
This report comes within a month of the Punjab government’s decision to fix a price for farmer suicides — Rs 2 lakh to the families of those farmers who have committed suicide in the past one year.
In Sangrur district, 738 farmers who took the fatal path to escape growing indebtedness, had an average outstanding debt of Rs 3.36 lakh per farmer. For another lot of 246 farmers who committed suicide for other reasons, the average outstanding amount standing against their name was Rs 79,935. As far as farm labourers are concerned, the average debt was Rs 70,036.
In Bathinda, the average outstanding due against farmers who could not sustain the growing indebtedness, was Rs 2.94 lakh. As many as 550 farmers belonged to this category. For another lot of 223 farmers who too committed suicide but for other reasons, the average outstanding debt was Rs 85,825. For the workers, the outstanding amount against their name was Rs 47,347 on an average. The report also provides a list of such households.
Meanwhile, another report in The Independent, London, says 1,500 farmers in Chattisgarh State have committed suicide. It blames crop failure and the falling water table to be responsible for the serial death dance. If this is true, I don’t see why the Punjab farmers, who are endowed with assured irrigation, have to commit suicide. That means lack of irrigation alone cannot be the reason. The PAU report blames growing indebtedness for the spate of suicides. Indebtedness comes from various reasons, and somehow I find we shirk from pointing to the real causes.
Reports about suicides in Vidharba belt in Maharashtra also ascribe it to lack of irrigation and distress sale of produce. While all this may be true, but I sometimes wonder why are we all reluctant to dig it deeper and find out the real causes that triggers indebtedness.

Devinder Sharma Groundreality

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