CHENNAI:The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)for 2014 reveals that of the 70 people who commit suicide everyday in India, over 33 are engaged in agriculture.
In a first, the NCRB has collected data on farmer-suicides while distinguishing between the deaths of agricultural labourers and the deaths of farmers. Data show that there were 12,360 agriculture-related suicides in 2014, of which 6,710 were farm labourers and the rest, 5,650, were farmers. Of these farmers, 4,087 were small and marginal farmers, pointing to the particular vulnerability of this section.
The figures also reveal that over 20 percent of the farmers who committed suicide -1,163- were bankrupt or severely indebted. As many as 965 of these farmers committed suicide after going bankrupt due to a crop loan, while 952 killed themselves due to crop failure. Besides these, 250 suicides were attributed to drug abuse and alcoholic addiction.
While two-thirds of all farmers killing themselves were aged between 30-60 years of age, 59 of them were minors (below 18) and 579 were senior citizens (above 60).
Five states alone - Maharashtra, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh - accounted for 86.6 per cent of the farmer suicides, while 11 states including West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan curiously recorded zero farmer suicides. A possible reason could be that these states did not send the required data to the NCRB.
Among the States, Maharashtra accounted for the maximum farmer suicides (2,568), deaths followed by Telengana(898), Madhya Pradesh (826), Chattisgarh (443) and Karnataka (321). Tamil Nadu recorded only 68 farmer suicides, lesser than its neighbours Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh (160) and Kerala (107).
However, though Tamil Nadu figures are less when it comes to the number of farmer suicides, it should still be noted that as many as 827 farm labourers committed suicide in the State last year, taking Tamil Nadu to number four position on overall agriculture related suicides after Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.
Incidentally, the figures show that self-employed people, including farmers and those involved in business, are the biggest group of people committing suicide. They form close to 20 per cent of the 1.31 lakh people who committed suicide in 2014.