VIJAYAWADA: The number of suicides involving farmers and farmhands in Andhra Pradesh increased to 1,029 last year from 664 in 2018. As per the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for the year 2019, AP stood third in the country in terms of suicides by farmers and farm hands. The state accounted for 10 per cent of such cases in India.Maharashtra took the first place, with 38.2% of such suicides, followed by Karnataka, with 19.4%. Madhya Pradesh (5.3%) took the fourth place, while Telangana and Chhattisgarh (4.9% each) shared the fifth position.
Of the 1,029 people in the farming sector in AP who committed suicide, 839 were men and 190 women. As many as 628 farmers, including 190 tenant farmers, took their lives for reasons not specified.In 2018, the number of farmers who committed suicide was 365, including 166 tenant farmers, which shows that more farmers who own land took the extreme step. As for agricultural labourers, 401 committed suicide in 2019, compared to 299 in 2018, according to the NCRB.
In neighbouring Telangana, eight agricultural labourers committed suicide in 2019 — the same as in the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of farmers, including tenant farmers, who committed suicide reduced from 900 in 2018 to 491 last year.The increase in the number of farmer suicides in AP in 2019 was unexpected, as conditions for the agriculture sector were favourable, with good rainfall and sufficient water in reservoirs, unlike in 2017 and 2018, which witnessed drought conditions.
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When asked about the reason for the increase, AP State Agriculture Mission (APSAM) vice- chairman MVS Nagi Reddy said, “The distress among farmers might not have happened in 2019; it could have been over a period of time. In fact, since the present government took over, there has been no reason for farmer distress, as every scheme is aimed at addressing the root cause.” Nagi Reddy added that the previous government tried to suppress facts about farmer suicides and distress, and this was evident from the fact that former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu in 2015 announced in the Assembly that there were no farmer suicides, but later announced compensation to 180 families of farmers, which increased to 380. “In fact, even that number could be wrong as the present government paid the pending compensation of the previous government. Our government has been liberal in compensating families of farmers who committed suicide,” he explained.
When contacted by TNIE, former agriculture minister Somreddy Chandramohan Reddy said the increase in the number of suicides could only be attributed to the “negligence” of the present government.
“The number of farmer suicides was more in the first six months of the YSRC government. Farmers have no trust in this government, which fails to see the bigger picture,” he said.According to him, except for `7,500 under Rythu Bharosa in addition to `6,000 under PM Kisan Samman scheme, farmers were not given any other benefits. There was no farm mechanisation, no support to micro irrigation and no supply of micronutrients, Somreddy said.
“Today, despite the favourable climate, the number of farmer suicides has increased. It can only be attributed to the attitude of the government,” the former minister said.Another former agriculture minister Vadde Shobanadreswara Rao said the present Union government’s attitude towards farmers is limited to lip sympathy, which is also reflected in the State. “In Andra Pradesh, the cost of product is more, while the returns are not up to expectations. Even today, small and tenant farmers have to depend on money lenders. The market stabilisation fund is limited to limited crops and in limited numbers.”
State ranks 3rd in India
Among states with the most farmer suicides, Maharashtra ranked first, followed by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh