After a lull, farmer suicide cases spike again in Karnataka

Farmer suicides had witnessed a lull during the southwest monsoon which also coincided with the loan waiver announcement of the Kumaraswamy-led coalition government.

Published: 18th January 2019 06:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th January 2019 06:28 AM   |  A+A-

Suicide, rope, hanging, hang

Image used for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

BENGALURU:  Has the farm loan waiver succeeded in curbing incidents of farmers’ suicides in the state? While the waiver announcement had some impact in the early days of the new government, the number of farmers taking the drastic route has swelled again.

Data available with TNIE shows that an average of 100 farmers have ended their lives every month between October and December as compared to an average of 50 in the first six months of the financial year 2018-19. Experts believe that the delay in implementation of farm loan waiver, lack of initiatives to increase farmers’ incomes, low price for farm produce and drought are the main reasons for the numbers to go up again. 

Farmer suicides had witnessed a lull during the southwest monsoon which also coincided with the loan waiver announcement of the Kumaraswamy-led coalition government. In the first three months of the financial year between April and June, 205 farmers’ suicides were recorded in the state, averaging 68 per month.

In the first three months of the new government, the number dipped, as is normal during sowing in kharif season, and 100 suicides were reported in that period.  

However, the number has tripled in the third quarter of 2018-19. The growing numbers have raised immediate concerns owing to the failure of the northeast monsoon that aids the rabi crop season.

Of the districts, those in the Mumbai-Karnataka region are witnessing more suicides. Between March and December 2018, the highest number of suicides was reported in Belagavi district where 66 farmers ended their lives, followed by Mysuru with 44 deaths. 

SMALL FARMERS ARE VICTIMS

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandrashekar said that despite the farm loan waiver, financial bankruptcy of small farmers due to poor harvest was the major reason for the spike in suicides. “Small farmers are bearing the brunt of the agrarian crisis caused by drought. Since they do not have any income to subsist agricultural income and as the state does not have any schemes to increase the income of farmers, they are forced to take the drastic step,” he said.

“Farm loan waiver too hasn’t reached all people. If the loan waiver was implemented in three months after its announcement, maybe the impact of drought could have been cushioned by it,” he said.  

POLICY FAILURE

R S Deshpande, an agricultural economist, said the number of suicides indicates that the steps required to end the crisis of farmers were not taken. “This means that the effective remedy for the crisis is neither understood nor in hand. This is a failure of the state agricultural price policy and also of state intelligence which indicated that farm loan waiver will end the agrarian crisis,” he said.Farm loan alone is not a problem for farmers. It is the receding income flow which is causing the crisis. Income and price insurance schemes aimed at farmers are essential, he said.



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