Published Date: November 11, 2011
Church people in Kerala say suicides by debt-ridden farmers are still occurring despite the introduction of several Church welfare schemes to help them.
“It’s so sad people are taking their lives because of financial difficulties,” said Mananthavady diocese spokesman Father Thomas Therakam, adding that three farmers in Wayanad district committed suicide last week.
The district had reported over 300 farmer suicides between 2001 and 2007 as a result of crop failures. Most of them had taken out loans from banks or money lenders.
According to Fr Therakam, many projects the Church started in association with Caritas India helped reduce the number of suicides in the last few years.
“But unfortunately, they are still occurring. We will step up our counseling and other campaigns to support the farmers,” the priest said.
The latest cases were farmers who incurred debts after the prices of ginger and bananas plummeted this season.
Fr John Choorapuzhayil, who directs the Wayanad Social Service Society, wants the government to fix a minimum price on produces.
As for the Church, its people should reach out more to all villagers, he said.
Others say simply talking to people will not be enough.
Raju Chovattukunnel, a layman, wants each parish to set up an emergency fund to provide financial aid to farmers.
“Counseling alone will not bring solace to farmers heavily in debt,” he warned.