Orissa's debt ridden farmers committing suicide

By ANI

Sunday January 14, 08:41 PM

olangir (Orissa), Jan 14 (ANI): Hundreds of small and marginal farmers in Orissa’s Bolangir district are committing suicide due to their inability to pay back the money loaned from the private moneylenders for growing cotton.

The failure of the cotton crop this year has led to the suicidal death of Gangaram, a farmer here.

Apart from him, many other farmers have been committing suicide, since they have been unable to pay debts to the private moneylenders.

Hundreds of small and marginal farmers lured by the cash crop -cotton, has been borrowing money from the private money lenders at a phenomenal interest rate ranging from 25 percent to 80 percent here.

Now, most of the cotton farmers have left the village and more are planning to leave in search of alternate means of livelihood.

Gouri Dila, a cotton farmer said that he had grown cotton in 1.5 acres of land by borrowing money from a local moneylender. He also said how the private moneylenders charge so much interest that most of the farmers are unable to repay because of failure of the cotton crop.

“We were cultivating cotton but due to cotton failure three members of my family have left this work and had shifted to a brick kiln. Rest of three members are here and managing ourselves with much difficulty. We have been cultivating cotton in half area of our land, but all got destroyed due to dry spell, that’s why our family is facing problem,” complained Gouri Dila, a cotton farmer.

Another cotton farmer said that due to unfavourable conditions and the high interest charged by the moneylender his family members have ventured out.

“My son had never left home earlier. This time he had to migrate due to cotton farming. Most of the members of my family have left their homes and gone to work in brick klins. One of my sons has also left the village to work at a far place as a labourer. I am alone here,” said Hiramani, another cotton farmer.

The Chairman of the Cotton Federation, Dr. Murrari Prasad Sharma said that due to lack of funds their organisation has been unable to purchase cotton from the farmers, as a result they are forced to depend on the Mahajans (local village money lenders).

“I have been appointed as the Chairman of the Cotton Federation, but there is nothing in the office; no money, nothing. When the cotton farmers need money to cultivate cotton, they take money from the businessmen with high interest. Because of the dry spell the output is not so good and so when they pay the money back they are not left with any thing. For example when they (farmers) want Rupees 5000, the Mahajans charge interest that amounts to double of the loan. So how will the farmers will be able to pay them back?” said Dr. Sharma.

In the absence of institutional credit and corrupt wheeler-dealers, the farmers tend to opt for middlemen and moneylenders.

Ironically, crop like cotton is the major agricultural product in Bolangir, Halahand and Koraput region because of the favourable agro-climate condition. But due to lack of facilities, the farmers are shifting to other crops or are migrating in search of jobs. (ANI)