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.