List of Farmer Suicides in Telanagana since 2nd June, 2014

Farmer Suicides in Telangana State since 2nd June, 2014 #AgrarianCrisis

S.No. Name Date Age Sex Village Mandal District
1 PUNDARIKA 11.07.14 42 M Vittol Muthol Adilabad
2 Kodapakoudu 14.07.14 40 M Roadmadiguda Jainath Adilabad
3 Pawar Khinji 28.06.14 65 M Suryamnagar BodhMandam Adilabad
4 Balli Pirajee 09.06.14 40 M Andukurouku Kunthala Adilabad
5 Jadav Indal 04.06.14 32 M Suryamtanda Kunthala Adilabad
6 Jadav Lalithabai 04.06.14 27 F Suryamtanda Kunthala Adilabad
7 Maina Mahesh 28.06.14 20 M Mangurla Jainath Adilabad
8 Purka Mothiram 28.06.14 45 M Mulkaguda Indravelli Adilabad
9 Batti Sayanna 06.07.14 52 M Jaam Sarangapur Adilabad
10 Desetti Anandababu 06.07.14 42 M Pendpelli Bainsa Adilabad
11 Akkala Lachchanna 10.07.14 35 M Velaguluru Dandepally Adilabad
12 Marishetti Vittal 12.07.14 60 M Koora Bela Adilabad
13 Satam.Gangadhar 20/7/14 35 M RACHAPUR LAXMANA CHANDA Adilabad
14 RATHOD MITTULAL 24-07-2014 40 M D.N.THANDA ECHODA Adilabad
15 Dasari Ravindra 11.07.14 40 M Marripallygudem Kamalapur Karimnagar
16 Veerangaplly chandraiah 23.06.14 45 M Kothapally Gambheraopeta Karimnagar
17 Damyam Gangaram 28.06.14 60 M Ambaaripeta Kadalapur Karimnagar
18 Padige Devaiah 12.06.14 58 M Chinna Bohela Sirisilla Karimnagar
19 Ganta.samaayaa 18/7/14 30 M KATARAM KATARAM Karimnagar
20 JaleChinnalalaiah 06.06.14 45 M Koyagudem Tekulapally Khammam
21 Iplathadagna 09.06.14 52 M Thummapallytanda Vanguru Mahboobnagar
22 J. Lakshmaiah 06.06.14 45 M Rallcheruvuthanda Thimmajipeta Mahboobnagar
23 vemula.krishnayya 19/7/14 40 M SRIPURAM NAGAR KURNOOL Mahboobnagar
24 MUDAVATH.MANGYA 16/6/14 60 M ipalapalli thanda Bijinepalli Mahboobnagar
25 PITLA EESWARAIAH 16/6/14 46 M THADURU THADURU Mahboobnagar
26 KRISHNA 18/6/14 28 M GATLA GANAPUR PEDDA MANDADI Mahboobnagar
27 GODA RAMA SWAMY 19/6/14 46 M JEELUGUPALLI LINGALA Mahboobnagar
28 SHEKARAIAH 19/6/14 40 M EERLAPALLI JADCHARLA Mahboobnagar
29 KULLE THIMMAPPA 21/7/14 40 M MALLAPURAM GATTU Mahboobnagar
30 CH.THIRUPATHAIAH 20/7/14 46 M C.THIRUMALPUR THADURU Mahboobnagar
31 A.ALIVELU 07-06-2014 44 F Prasant nagar Amrabad Mahboobnagar
32 Karre Beeraiah 07.06.14 30 M Thummakapally Doulathabad Medak
33 Doddi Pushpa 05.07.14 30 F Chetla Narsampalli Doulathabad Medak
34 Mallesam 07.07.14 40 M Marepally Kondapur Medak
35 Eshwar 01.06.14 35 M Potupally Jaheerabad Medak
36 Peerla Yadagiri 15.06.14 45 M Mutrajupally Gajwel Medak
37 Mangali Yesu 16.06.14 30 M Nagapur Medak Medak
38 Papamella Satyanarayana 16.06.14 38 M Shalipeta Chinnasenkarampeta Medak
39 Gaddam Vamseedhar Reddy 14.06.14 26 M Chandupur Chinnakodur Medak
40 Boyina Mallesam 26.06.14 45 M Thavellaru Andol Medak
41 Gadige Vittalgoud 22.06.14 55 M Bageeradha pally ChinnasankaramPeta Medak
42 Narige Parasuramulu 24.06.14 42 M Magdampuru Singanooru Medak
43 Veeranga Yellaiah 24.06.14 55 M Kodakantla Gajwel Medak
44 R. Ashok Reddy 02.06.14 42 M EllaReddy Peta Thogutta Medak
45 Tankari Sidiramulu 03.06.14 45 M Konapur Medak Medak
46 B. Rajaiah 09.06.14 38 M Gatlamalyala Nanguluru Medak
47 KasulaBhaskerreddy 19.06.14 45 M Thimmakkapally Doulathabad Medak
48 Dasarath 26.06.14 38 M Cherlagudem Sangareddy Medak
49 Korishala Ravi 04.07.14 45 M Kodakandla Gajwel Medak
50 Kummari Suresh 08.07.14 32 M Kucharam Thupran Medak
51 Karva.Beeraiah 22/7/14 70 M Navab peta Medak Medak
52 Saidulu 07.06.14 40 M Gurram Padu Gurrampadu Nallagonda
53 Boppanapally Rajaiah 09.06.14 45 M Velmaneni gudem Gurrampadu Nallagonda
54 Kalukuri Kishtaiah 07.07.14 36 M Velvarthy Waligonda Nallagonda
55 Nalla Sreeramulu 04.07.14 37 M Gundala Gundala Nallagonda
56 Gangaraboyina Paramesh 04.07.14 28 M Chelmeda Munugodu Nallagonda
57 ItheganiVenkanna 04.07.14 50 M Kamepally Vemulapally Nallagonda
58 Ch. Kumaraswamy 06.07.14 46 M Yellmurigudem Gurrampadu Nallagonda
59 Pasuluri Yadaiah 13.06.14 50 M Mutyalaplli Bonagiri Nallagonda
60 Kattula Venkataiah 15.06.14 48 M Pallepahad Narketpally Nallagonda
61 Vanguri Kishtaiah 10.07.14 27 M Chennampally Nakirekal Nallagonda
62 Jangeti Sreenu 02.07.14 32 M Naturallapally Chintapally Nallagonda
63 Pabba Yadaiah 21.06.14 42 M Shobandripuram Ramannapeta Nallagonda
64 Goranti Lalaiah 13.06.14 35 M Takkalapally Chintapally Nallagonda
65 Madagoni.Yadaiah 20/7/14 35 M G.yadavalli Kanagal Nallagonda
66 Rottela.lakshmayya 15/7/14 30 M Thipparthi Thipparthi Nallagonda
67 Jithendar 15/7/14 35 M Katepally Atmakur(M) Nallagonda
68 RACHAKONDA SHANKAR 26-07-2014 25 M chervu annaram kattangur Nallagonda
69 CHETKURI.VENKATESAM 26-07-2014 46 M KALVAPALLI RAJAPETA Nallagonda
70 KESANI.ADI REDDY 26-07-2014 45 M gopavari gudem NIDAMANURU Nallagonda
71 Satyanarayana 09.06.14 40 M Thimmapur Birkuru Nizamabad
72 MANNE NARAYANA 26-07-2014 52 M BASVAPUR BIKKANUR Nizamabad
73 Madduri Chandramouli 07.06.14 63 M SirigiriPeta Thanduru RangaReddy
74 PILLIGUNDLA MANAYYA 26-07-2014 45 M RAVULAPALLI MARPALLI RangaReddy
75 Dundu Jampaiah 07.06.14 55 M Nallabelli Nallabelli Warangal
76 Yetham Ilaiah 07.06.14 30 M Kondapur Station Ghanapur Warangal
77 Kondapally Prashanthkumar 14.06.14 35 M Nainala Nellikuduru Warangal
78 Madikanti Santhosh 16.06.14 32 M Pochempally Regonda Warangal
79 Punem Satyanarayana 19.06.14 47 M Gogupally EturuNagaram Warangal
80 Polla Sreenivas 26.06.14 30 M Kadagerdugu Cheryala Warangal
81 Gardula Venkanna 26.06.14 45 M Anapuram Marripeda Warangal
82 Gudise Yellaiah 21.06.14 28 M Marmamula Maddur Warangal
83 Thummala Sampathrao 22.06.14 45 M Gadipally Regonda Warangal
84 Samala Ramaswamy 26.06.14 60 M Jawahar Nagar Venkatapur Warangal
85 Thinnala Kumar 26.06.14 42 M Bandanthapuram Vardannapeta Warangal
86 Korivi Yadagiri 27.06.14 60 M Konne Bachannapeta Warangal
87 SamudralaVenkataiah 29.06.14 55 M Chilpur Station Ghanpur Warangal
88 Peraboyina Sampath 03.07.14 32 M Seetharamapuram Parakala Warangal
89 Muntha Mallikarjun 03.07.14 34 M Shayampeta Geesukonda Warangal
90 LachchaMogilli 11.07.14 46 M Neerukulla Atmakuru Warangal
91 Sadanandam 12.07.14 30 M Machapuram Geesukonda Warangal
92 MuddarabohinJaya 14.06.14 50 F Bodduchinthalapally Geesukonda Warangal
93 BojamKomaraiah 14.06.14 60 M Vellampally Parakala Warangal
94 Kokkoda Rajaiah 14.07.14 38 M Gurjakunta Cheryala Warangal
95 Eeragani.samatha 22/7/14 28 M Dhuth pally Chityala Warangal
96 LAKSHMI NARAYANA 26-07-2014 56 M ARVAPALLI WARANGAL WARANGAL
97 KONAPAKA SRIHARI 13-07-2014 51 M VARIKOLE Parakala Warangal
98 RASAMALLA ANJAIAH 21-07-2014 42 M VARIKOLE Parakala Warangal
99 DANDU.MALLAIAH 25-07-2014 41 M RAGHAVAPUR Chityala Warangal
100 N.BIKSHAPATHI 20-07-2014 45 M VANGAPADU HASANPARTHY Warangal
101 B.RAYUDU 26-07-2014 32 M CHERYALA Cheryala Warangal

Over 2,000 fewer farmers every day

P. SAINATHThe mistaken notion that the 53 per cent of India's population dependent on agriculture are all farmers lead many to dismiss the country’s massive farmers’ suicides as trivial. Photo: AP

  • The mistaken notion that the 53 per cent of India’s population dependent on agriculture are all farmers lead many to dismiss the country’s massive farmers’ suicides as trivial. Photo: AP
  • The Hindu

The mistaken notion that the 53 per cent of India’s population ‘dependent on agriculture’ are all ‘farmers’ leads many to dismiss the massive farmers’ suicides as trivial

There are nearly 15 million farmers (‘Main’ cultivators) fewer than there were in 1991. Over 7.7 million less since 2001, as the latest Census data show. On average, that’s about 2,035 farmers losing ‘Main Cultivator’ status every single day for the last 20 years. And in a time of jobless growth, they’ve had few places to go beyond the lowest, menial ends of the service sector.

A December 2012 report of the Institute of Applied Manpower Research (IAMR) — a part of the Planning Commission — puts it this way: “employment in total and in non-agricultural sectors has not been growing. This jobless growth in recent years has been accompanied by growth in casualization and informalization.” It speaks of an “an absolute shift in workers from agriculture of 15 million to services and industry.” But many within the sector also likely moved from farmer to agricultural labourer status. Swelling the agrarian underclass.

So how many farmers do we have?

Census 2011 tells us we now have 95.8 million cultivators for whom farming is their main occupation. That’s less than 8 per cent of the population. (Down from 103 million in 2001 and 110 million in 1991). Include all marginal cultivators (22.8 million) and that is still less than 10 per cent of the population.

Even if you count together all cultivators and agricultural labourers, the number would be around 263 million or 22 per cent of the population. (Interestingly, this reduced figure comes after a few big states have actually reported a rise in the total number of cultivators. Since 85 per cent of all marginal workers reported more than a 100 days work, this could possibly reflect the reverse pull of MNREGA, among other factors).

Between 1981 and 1991, the number of cultivators (main workers), actually went up from 92 million to 110 million. So the huge decline comes post-1991.

Hold on: aren’t 53 per cent of the population farmers?

No. That’s a common fallacy. The over 600 million Indians dependent on agriculture are not all farmers. They are deployed in an array of related activities — including fisheries. This confusion is widespread and innocent.

Yet, there are also a few whose colossal ignorance leads them to dismiss the country’s massive farmers’ suicides as trivial. For instance: “at least half of the Indian workforce is engaged in farming. This fact points to a much lower suicide rate per 100,000 individuals for farmers than in the general population.” Note how easily those ‘engaged in farming’ become ‘farmers!’

As a notion it borders on the whacko. It goes: After all, 53 out of every 100 Indians are farmers. So our 270,940 farm suicides since 1995 are a low number on a population base of over 600 million. So low that we should be agitated over how the suicide rate in the general population can be brought “down to the levels prevailing amongst farmers.”

Never mind for now the appalling moral position that a quarter of a million human beings taking their lives is hardly alarming. The Bhopal gas tragedy, the worst industrial disaster in human terms, claimed over 20,000 lives. But in this perverse logic, since that was less than 0.003 per cent of the then population, it is rendered meaningless. That position says more about its authors than about the suicides. It shows they are clueless about who a farmer is — and about what the data show.

It shows even greater ignorance of who defines and counts a ‘farmer suicide.’ The Census records cultivators. The police count suicides. The police do not read the Census. Not for definitions, anyway.

The Census groups the population into workers and non-workers. The latter would be infants, children, students, housewives, unemployed, aged and retired people. Farmers, or cultivators come under ‘Workers’ — a huge category covering many varied groups. Now rural workers account for close to 70 per cent of all workers. And rural workers consist of farmers, agricultural labourers and non-farm workers.

Cultivators (main workers) in the Census are barely eight per cent of the population as a whole. (That’s after a two-decade secular decline in this group). The ongoing farm suicides — 184,169 of them since 2001 according to the National Crime Records Bureau — are taking place on a smaller and shrinking base. Their intensity has hardly diminished. In most of the States accounting for two-thirds of all farm suicides, the intensity has likely risen.

Of course distress affects a much wider population dependent on agriculture. (Farmer bankruptcies crush the village carpenter, and even play a role in weaver suicides). The sufferings of others are as real. It is not as if the agricultural labourer or non-farm worker is having a great time. Both sections have seen distress migrations — and suicides. (For that matter the owner of a small industrial unit in an urban city could be distress-hit). Their suicides are no less tragic. But it is vital to know who officially gets counted as a farmer. And who gets listed in the ‘farmers’ suicides. For that tells us more about the ongoing tragedy and gives us a sense of its awful scale.

Everybody who works in the film industry is not an actor. Everyone in the educational system is not a student. And all those in the 53 per cent of the population related to the farming sector are not farmers. Even among those who are, only a limited group gets counted as such when police and governments make farmers’ suicide lists. Cultivators are counted by the Census. Suicides are recorded by police stations across the country. The numbers collated by State governments. Very different approaches are involved.

The Census considers someone a cultivator if he or she operates a piece of land — which they may or may not own; State governments and police count only those with a title to land as farmers. The Census records two kinds of cultivators: ‘Main workers’ and ‘marginal workers.’ The latter are more like agricultural labourers or non-farm workers since farming is not their main activity. A ‘Main worker’ in cultivation is someone for whom that is the major occupation for at least half the year. That group makes barely eight per cent of the population as a whole.

Suicides among the others in the agrarian world (within that “53 per cent”) won’t be recorded as ‘farmer suicides.’ Try getting State governments and their police to do that! Even within the ‘recognised’ eight per cent, those whose title to land is not clear will not be listed as farmers’ suicides, should they take their own lives. For instance, women and tenant farmers are routinely excluded. Even eldest sons running the farms — with the land still in the names of their aged fathers — would also be omitted.

Police and State governments run the suicide lists, not the Census. Nor does the NCRB, which has neither the vested interest nor the ability to fiddle that data. It merely collates what the State Crime Record Bureaus submit to it. Hence, the Chhattisgarh government could brazenly declare a ‘zero farm suicides’ figure in 2011. That after the State saw over 7,500 of them (by its own admission) between 2006-10. With all the fiddles in the data, the numbers and intensity remain appalling.

Maharashtra revels in such fraud. With close to 54,000 since 1995, the State has been the worst in farm suicides for over a decade. And even those numbers conceal major exclusions. They’ve invented categories like ‘Farmer’s relatives suicides,’ or “non-genuine” suicides, in order to further trim the numbers. So the State governments and their police, have immense power in re-defining who a farmer is. Watch out for more and more States doing ‘a Chhattisgarh’ and declaring ‘zero’ farm suicides in coming months and years.

 

The farm crisis: why have over one lakh farmers killed themselves in the past decade? Parliament lecture, 2007 by Sainath

070906 Sainath Parlimentary lecture Farm Crisis

Speaker’s Lecture Series: Parliament House, Sept. 6, 2007
The farm crisis: why have over one lakh farmers killed themselves in the past decade?
P. Sainath
Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu
We, as a nation, are in the worst agrarian crisis in four decades. It is impossible to cover such a large issue in full. So I am going to be dealing with it in fragments today. I would like to stress that the crisis is so deep, so advanced that: firstly, no State, nobody, is exempt from this and it is not to be seen as the crisis of one State or one Government or one Party. It is a national crisis and we need to respond to it as such. It is a huge thing. In that crisis, the suicides are merely, however tragic, just a symptom and not the disease. They are a consequence, not the process.

Farm suicides rise in Maharashtra, State still leads the list



It accounted for well over a fifth of the total of 14,027 deaths in 2011


With a figure of at least 14,027 in 2011, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the total number of farm suicides since 1995 has touched 2,70, 940. The State of Maharashtra shows a rise in numbers yet again, logging 3,337 against 3,141 farmers’ suicides the previous year (and 2,872 in 2009). This, despite heavy massaging of data at the State level for years now, even re-defining of the term “farmer” itself. And despite an orchestrated (and expensive) campaign in the media and other forums by governments and major seed corporations to show that their efforts had made things a lot better. Maharashtra remains the worst single State for farm suicides for over a decade now.
The total number of farmers who have taken their own lives in Maharashtra since 1995 is closing in on 54,000. Of these 33,752 have occurred in nine years since 2003, at an annual average of 3,750. The figure for 1995-2002 was 20,066 at an average of 2,508. Significantly, the rise is occurring even as the farm population is shrinking a fact broadly true across the country. And more so in Maharashtra which has been urbanising more rapidly than most. The rising-suicides-shrinking-population equation suggests a major intensification of the pressures on the community. A better understanding of that, though, awaits the new farm population figures of the 2011 Census — not expected for many months from now. At present both national and State-wise farm suicide ratios (the number of farmers committing suicide per 100,000 farmers) are based on very outdated 2001 Census numbers.
Big five States
The 2011 total gets dicey with Chhattisgarh’s posting a figure of zero farm suicides. A zero figure should be great news. Except that Chhattisgarh had 7,777 farm suicides in the preceding five years, including 1,126 in 2010. It has been amongst the very worst States for such deaths for several years. The share of the worst (Big 5) states (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh) as a percentage of total farm suicides, is now around 64 per cent. Even with Chhattisgarh showing a ‘zero’ figure, that is not much lower than the preceding five-year average for the Big 5 of close to 66 per cent. It could be that Chhattisgarh’s figures have simply not made it to the NCRB in time. Otherwise, it means that the State is in fact a late entrant to the numbers massage parlour. Others have been doing it for years. Maharashtra since 2007, following the Prime Minister’s visit to Vidarbha. Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar has strictly avoided using NCRB farm data in Parliament since 2008 because the data are unpleasant. (The union government however quotes the NCRB for all other categories). Now, governments are deep into fiddling the data that goes from the States to the NCRB.
With the Big 5 also staring drought in the face, what numbers the coming season will throw up is most worrying. Within Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada have already been under great stress (which in turn pushes officials to step up data fiddles). If the numbers are re-calculated using the annual average of Chhattisgarh in the past five years, the national total of farm suicides for 2011 would be 15,582. And the share of the Big 5 (at 10,524) would be nearly 68 per cent. That’s higher than the five-year average for those States, too. In 1995, the first time the NCRB tabulated farm suicide data, the Big 5 accounted for 56.04 per cent of all farm suicides.
In 2011, five States showed increases of over 50 farm suicides compared to 2010. These included Gujarat (55), Haryana (87), Madhya Pradesh (89), Tamil Nadu (82). Maharashtra alone showed a rise of 196. Nine States showed declines exceeding 50 farm suicides, of which Karnataka (485) and Andhra Pradesh (319) and West Bengal (186) claimed the biggest falls. That, of course, after Chhattisgarh, which claimed a decline of 1,126, with its zero farm suicides figure in 2011.

Reaping gold through cotton, and newsprint: P. SAINATH

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article3401466.ece?homepage=true

A facsimile of The Times of India’s August 28, 2011 page with the ‘marketing feature’ on Bt Cotton.

A facsimile of The Times of India’s August 28, 2011 page with the ‘marketing feature’ on Bt Cotton.

The same full page appeared twice in three years, the first time as news, the second time as an advertisement

“Not a single person from the two villages has committed suicide.”

Three and a half years ago, at a time when the controversy over the use of genetically modified seeds was raging across India, a newspaper story painted a heartening picture of the technology’s success. “There are no suicides here and people are prospering on agriculture. The switchover from the conventional cotton to Bollgard or Bt Cotton here has led to a social and economic transformation in the villages [of Bhambraja and Antargaon] in the past three-four years.” (Times of India, October 31, 2008).

So heartening was this account that nine months ago, the same story was run again in the same newspaper, word for word. (Times of India, August 28, 2011). Never mind that the villagers themselves had a different story to tell.

“There have been 14 suicides in our village,” a crowd of agitated farmers in Bhambraja told shocked members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in March this year. “Most of them after Bt came here.” The Hinduwas able to verify nine that had occurred between 2003 and 2009. Activist groups count five more since then. All after 2002, the year the TOI story says farmers here switched to Bt. Prospering on agriculture? The villagers told the visibly shaken MPs: “Sir, lots of land is lying fallow. Many have lost faith in farming.” Some have shifted to soybean where “at least the losses are less.”

Over a hundred people, including landed farmers, have migrated from this ‘model farming village’ showcasing Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech’s Bt Cotton. “Many more will leave because agriculture is dying,” Suresh Ramdas Bhondre had predicted during our first visit to Bhambraja last September.

The 2008 full-page panegyric in the TOI on Monsanto’s Bt Cotton rose from the dead soon after the government failed to introduce the Biotech Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill in Parliament in August 2011. The failure to table the Bill — crucial to the future profits of the agri-biotech industry — sparked frenzied lobbying to have it brought in soon. The full-page, titled Reaping Gold through Bt Cotton on August 28 was followed by a flurry of advertisements from Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (India) Ltd., in the TOI (and some other papers), starting the very next day. These appeared on August 29, 30, 31, September 1 and 3. The Bill finally wasn’t introduced either in the monsoon or winter session — though listed for business in both — with Parliament bogged down in other issues. Somebody did reap gold, though, with newsprint if not with Bt Cotton.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture appeared unimpressed by the ad barrage, which also seemed timed for the committee’s deliberations on allowing genetically modified food crops. Disturbed by reports of mounting farm suicides and acute distress in Vidarbha, committee members, who belong to different parties, decided to visit the region.

Bhambraja, touted as a model for Mahyco-Monsanto’s miracle Bt, was an obvious destination for the committee headed by veteran parliamentarian Basudeb Acharia. Another was Maregaon-Soneburdi. But the MPs struck no gold in either village. Only distress arising from the miracle’s collapse and a raft of other, government failures.

The issues (and the claims made by the TOI in its stories) have come alive yet again with the debate sparked off by the completion of 10 years of Bt cotton in India in 2012. The “Reaping Gold through Bt Cotton” that appeared on August 28 last year, presented itself as “A consumer connect initiative.” In other words, a paid-for advertisement. The bylines, however, were those of professional reporters and photographers of the Times of India. More oddly, the story-turned-ad had already appeared, word-for-word, in the Times of India, Nagpur on October 31, 2008. The repetition was noticed and ridiculed by critics. The August 28, 2011 version itself acknowledged this unedited ‘reprint’ lightly. What appeared in 2008, though, was not marked as an advertisement. What both versions do acknowledge is: “The trip to Yavatmal was arranged by Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech.”

The company refers to the 2008 feature as “a full-page news report” filed by the TOI. “The 2008 coverage was a result of the media visit and was based on the editorial discretion of the journalists involved. We only arranged transport to-and-from the fields,” a Mahyco Monsanto Biotech India spokesperson told The Hindu last week. “The 2011 report was an unedited reprint of the 2008 coverage as a marketing feature.” The 2008 “full-page news report” appeared in the Nagpur edition. The 2011 “marketing feature” appeared in multiple editions (which you can click to online under ‘special reports’) but not in Nagpur, where it would surely have caused astonishment.

So the same full-page appeared twice in three years, the first time as news, the second time as an advertisement. The first time done by the staff reporter and photographer of a newspaper. The second time exhumed by the advertising department. The first time as a story trip ‘arranged by Mahyco-Monsanto.’ The second time as an advertisement arranged by Mahyco-Monsanto. The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

The company spokesperson claimed high standards of transparency in that “…we insisted that the publication add the source and dateline as follows: ‘This is a reprint of a story from the Times of India, Nagpur edition, October 31, 2008.’ But the spokesperson’s e-mail reply to The Hindu‘s questions is silent on the timing of the advertisements. “In 2011, we conducted a communications initiative for a limited duration aimed at raising awareness on the role of cotton seeds and plant biotechnologies in agriculture.” Though The Hindu raised the query, there is no mention of why the ads were run during the Parliament session when the BRAI Bill was to have come up, but didn’t.

But there’s more. Some of the glowing photographs accompanying the TOI coverage of the Bt miracle were not taken in Bhambraja or Antargaon, villagers allege. “This picture is not from Bhambraja, though the people in it are” says farmer Babanrao Gawande from that village.

Phantom miracle

The Times of India story had a champion educated farmer in Nandu Raut who is also an LIC agent. His earnings shot up with the Bt miracle. “I made about Rs.2 lakhs the previous year,” Nandu Raut told me last September. “About Rs.1.6 lakh came from the LIC policies I sold.” In short, he earned from selling LIC policies four times what he earned from farming. He has seven and a half acres and a four-member family.

But the TOI story has him earning “Rs.20,000 more per acre (emphasis added) due to savings in pesticide.” Since he grew cotton on four acres, that was a “saving” of Rs. 80,000 “on pesticide.” Quite a feat. As many in Bhambraja say angrily: “Show us one farmer here earning Rs.20,000 per acre at all, let alone that much more per acre.” A data sheet from a village-wide survey signed by Mr. Raut (in The Hindu‘s possession) also tells a very different story on his earnings.

The ridicule that Bhambraja and Maregaon farmers pour on the Bt ‘miracle’ gains credence from the Union Agriculture Minister’s figures. “Vidarbha produces about 1.2 quintals [cotton lint] per hectare on average,” Sharad Pawar told Parliament on December 19, 2011. That is a shockingly low figure. Twice that figure would still be low. The farmer sells his crop as raw cotton. One-hundred kg of raw cotton gives 35 kg of lint and 65 kg of cotton seed (of which up to two kg is lost in ginning). And Mr. Pawar’s figure translates to just 3.5 quintals of raw cotton per hectare. Or merely 1.4 quintals per acre. Mr. Pawar also assumed farmers were getting a high price of Rs.4,200 per quintal. He conceded that this was close to “the cost of cultivation… and that is why I think such a serious situation is developing there.” If Mr. Pawar’s figure was right, it means Nandu Raut’s gross income could not have exceeded Rs.5,900 per acre. Deduct his input costs — of which 1.5 packets of seed alone accounts for around Rs.1,400 — and he’s left with almost nothing. Yet, the TOI has him earning “Rs.20,000 more per acre.”

Asked if they stood by these extraordinary claims, the Mahyco-Monsanto spokesperson said, “We stand by the quotes of our MMB India colleague, as published in the news report.” Ironically, that single-paragraph quote, in the full-page-news story-turned-ad, makes no mention of the Rs.20,000-plus per acre earnings or any other figure. It merely speaks of Bt creating “increased income of cotton growers…” and of growth in Bt acreage. It does not mention per acre yields. And says nothing about zero suicides in the two villages. So the company carefully avoids direct endorsement of the TOI’s claims, but uses them in a marketing feature where they are the main points.

The MMB spokesperson’s position on these claims is that “the journalists spoke directly with farmers on their personal experiences during the visits, resulting in various news reports, including the farmer quotes.”

The born-again story-turned-ad also has Nandu Raut reaping yields of “about 20 quintals per acre with Bollgard II,” nearly 14 times the Agriculture Minister’s average of 1.4 quintals per acre. Mr. Pawar felt that Vidarbha’s rainfed irrigation led to low yields, as cotton needs “two to three waterings.” He was silent on why Maharashtra, ruled by an NCP-Congress alliance, promotes Bt Cotton in almost entirely rainfed regions. The Maharashtra State Seed Corporation (Mahabeej) distributes the very seeds the State’s Agriculture Commissioner found to be unsuited for rainfed regions seven years ago. Going by the TOI, Nandu is rolling in cash. Going by the Minister, he barely stays afloat.

Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech’s ad barrage the same week in 2011 drew other fire. Following a complaint, one of the ads (also appearing in another Delhi newspaper) claiming huge monetary benefits to Indian farmers landed before the Advertising Standards Council of India. ASCI “concluded that the claims made in the advertisement and cited in the complaint, were not substantiated.” The MMB spokesperson said the company “took cognizance of the points made by ASCI and revised the advertisement promptly…. ASCI has, on record, acknowledged MMB India’s modification of the advertisement…”

We met Nandu again as the Standing Committee MPs left his village in March. “If you ask me today,” he said, “I would say don’t use Bt here, in unirrigated places like this. Things are now bad.” He had not raised a word during the meeting with the MPs, saying he had arrived too late to do so.

“We have thrown away the moneylender. No one needs him anymore,” The Times of India news report-turned-ad quotes farmer Mangoo Chavan as saying. That’s in Antargaon, the other village the newspaper found to be basking in Bt-induced prosperity. A study of the 365 farm households in Bhambraja and the nearly 150 in Antargaon by the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) shows otherwise. “Almost all farmers with bank accounts are in critical default and 60 per cent of farmers are also in debt to private moneylenders,” says VJAS chief Kishor Tiwari.

The Maharashtra government tried hard to divert the MPs away from the ‘model village’ of Bhambraja (and Maregaon) to places where the government felt in control. However, Committee Chairperson Basudeb Acharia and his colleagues stood firm. Encouraged by the MPs visit, people in both places spoke their minds and hearts. Maharashtra’s record of over 50,000 farm suicides between 1995 and 2010 is the worst in the country as the data of the National Crime Records Bureau show. And Vidarbha has long led the State in such deaths. Yet, the farmers also spoke of vast, policy-linked issues driving agrarian distress here.

None of the farmers reduced the issue of the suicides or the crisis to being only the outcome of Bt Cotton. But they punctured many myths about its miracles, costs and ‘savings.’ Some of their comments came as news to the MPs. And not as paid news or a marketing feature, either.

Farmer suicides: South India leads list of shame

http://expressbuzz.com/nation/farmer-suicides-south-india-leads-list-of-shame/350158.html

NEW DELHI: Saving Tamil Nadu, the three South Indian states account for the maximum number of farmers’ suicides in the country in the last three years.

Out of the total 3,160 farmers’ suicides reported from 2009 to 2011, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala alone account for about 1,800 suicides, as per the details collated in the Agriculture Ministry. Tamil Nadu is the only state in south India which has not reported any case of farmer suicide. Among the Southern states, Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of suicide cases. As many as 920 farmers have taken their lives  in Andhra alone in the last three years. Karnataka with 469 cases stands second in the list.

According to the Agriculture Ministry statistics, Kerala accounts for 11 farmer suicide cases in 2009. But no case has been reported there in the last two years.

If one goes by the states with the most instances of farmers’ distress, then the notoriety goes to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s home state Maharashtra. It alone has as many as 1539 suicides. Farmers have committed suicide only in six states, as per the Ministry statistics. The other state which has reported farmer suicide is Punjab. It has reported 31 cases in the last three years.

“We have compiled the data after collecting information from the states. The 2011 data is not yet complete but there will not be any drastic change in the pattern,” said an official with the Agriculture Ministry.

According to him, the major reasons for farm suicide include indebtedness, crop failure and drought. “Sometimes, even socio-economic reasons are also being cited,” said the official.

The only silver line in the otherwise bleak picture is the fact that the number of suicides has been coming down drastically if one goes by the statistics. And this is true in the case of all states. The number of cases has almost halved in the case of the top states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

“That the number of suicides is coming down is quite a relief. We believe that this is the impact of distress relief measures initiated by the Government,” he said.

As per the official, the Government has so far spent around `19,910.70 crore till September 2011 as part of the rehabilitation package announced in 2006. This package covered 31 districts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. The government claims that the Agriculture Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme had benefitted about 3.69 crore farmers involving `65,318.33 crore.

According to the official, what has benefitted the farmers most is the enhancement of minimum support price for major cereals.

“According to our estimate, this single measure has acted as a major deterrent,” said the official.

Australia: Study probes why farmers are more prone to suicides

By Sam Burgess

Posted November 15, 2011 09:25:57

A new university study is hoping to uncover why farmers are up to two times more likely to take their own lives.

Researchers will interview the next-of-kin of suicide victims to understand why farmers are up to two times more likely than the general population to end their own life.

Griffith University’s Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention and the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Rural Health and Remote Mental Health are conducting the study.

Researcher Dr Allison Milner says other factors, such as the growth of the mining industry, will also be examined.

“This is something we hope to look into because we don’t actually know yet whether we can quantify that as a risk,” she said.

The findings will be used in prevention programs.

“Past studies haven’t investigated samples of people who have died by suicide,” she said.

“They’ve mainly been community surveys about ideation and mental health in general, rather than in-depth looks into what goes on behind someone who actually dies by suicide.”

Lifeline spokesman Derek Tuffield has welcomed the study.

“We need to know more about what’s happening for them, what’s affecting their health and wellbeing,” he said.

AP: 5 Ryots end their lives

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/5-ryots-end-lives/articleshow/10721917.cms

HYDERABAD: Three cotton farmers were among the five who committed suicide in the state in the last 24 hours. The suicides came in the wake of heavy crop losses and mounting debts on the poor farmers. Lack of rains is considered the main reason for crop failures, especially cotton. Ravi Naik and consumed pesticide to end his life at Nanya thanda in Keshampet mandal of Mahbubnagar district on Saturday evening. He had taken nine acres on lease and also availed Rs1 lakh loan to cultivate paddy. But subsequently, he suffered heavy losses and the crops dried up due to lack of rains.

Ramulu committed suicide in Mahbubnagar district, after suffering huge crop losses. He had cultivated paddy and groundnut in five acres.

V M Reddy of Nalgonda district, 25, took four acres on lease and cultivated sweet lime and oranges. He took Rs6 lakh loan to sow the crops. Worried over the loss and debt burden, he c

consumed pesticide at Utlapalli village in Peddavoora mandal in Nalgonda district on Saturday night.

Anasuya of Karimnagar district and on Sunday and ended her life. She suffered losses after her cotton crops dried up because of the lack of rains and water supply.

Fiftyfive year old

Sangappa also ended his life by consuming pesticide in Ananthasagar village in Kondapur mandal

of Medak district also ended their lives on Sunday. tnn He had cultivated cotton and eventually suffered losses.

Kerala: Farmers’ suicides: Kisan Sabha to stage fast

The All India Kisan Sabha will stage a 24-hour mass hunger strike from 3 p.m. on Wednesday, demanding urgent measures to end suicides by farmers in Kerala.

The sabha, a feeder organisation of the Communist Party if India, is demanding Rs.5 lakh as solatium to the families of the farmers who had committed suicide, extension of debt-relief measures, and grant of low-interest loans to poor farmers.

Satyan Mokeri, general secretary of its State unit, told presspersons here on Sunday that a delegation of the sabha had visited Wayanad district to assess the situation. Agrarian crisis had intensified in Wayanad and other districts owing to a drop in the prices of ginger and banana.

Mr. Mokeri said seven farmers committed suicide recently, including one each in Kottayam and Thrissur districts. The others were in Wayanad, the victims being poor marginal farmers who had leased land in the district and neighbouring Karnataka for ginger cultivation along with raising plantains.

While ginger used to fetch about Rs.2,500 a 60-kg bag, the prices had now dropped to less than Rs.500 owing to the arrival of the produce from Nepal. Banana fetched only Rs.8-12 a kg now. As banks would not advance them loans, the farmers borrowed from moneylenders and micro-finance institutions at interest rates as high as 24 per cent. While the investment for cultivation of one acre of land was about Rs.2.5 lakh, the harvest yielded less than Rs.1.5 lakh.

The farmers who committed suicide were those not eligible for protection from the Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission as they had availed themselves of loans after 2009. The Farmers’ Debt Relief Act should be amended to extend coverage, along with extending the last date for filing applications. Loans taken from cooperatives and other institutions too should be brought under the purview of the Act.

Mr. Mokeri said the government should ensure that the interest rates for farm loans, including those from microfinance institutions, would not exceed 4 per cent. Interest-free loans should be extended to poor farmers. Steps should be taken to extend loans among other benefits to farmers cultivating leased land.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had been adopting a negative attitude towards the issue of farmers’ suicide, he alleged. The sabha would submit a detailed representation to him. A solidarity meeting would be organised on Wednesday evening as part of the hunger strike. National president of the sabha C. K. Chandrappan would inaugurate the fast.