BENGALURU: Amid the gloom of Covid pandemic and rain misery, here is some positive news. After many years, farmer suicides in Karnataka have come down drastically. In the last one-and-a-half years, 746 such cases have been reported, as against 1,076 in 2019-20.
As per data available with the state agriculture department, 746 suicides were recorded between April 2020 and September 2021. The incidence was high in North Karnataka, Mysuru and Chikkamagaluru districts.
This could be due to copious rain, resulting in better yields, experts said. Srinivasa Reddy, former director of the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Centre and Senior Consultant, State Disaster Management Authority, The New Indian Express pointed out that in the last couple of years, the state has been receiving good rain, which has resulted in an increase in the groundwater level to an extent.
“If there is no rain, farmers will not even get 50 per cent of their investment. A good rainfall reduces distress among farmers and gives them hope. This could be one of the reasons for lesser number of suicides. There will, however, be many other factors too, including socio-economic,” he said. Because of good rain, the State produced over 150 lakh tonnes of foodgrains, which is highest ever. An agriculture Department official said that in the last couple of years, they have seized more quantities of low-quality seeds, reducing losses to farmers. “We have seized over 10 lakh tonnes of sub-standard seeds in the last two years. FIRs have been registered against individuals and companies. The yield will be not more than 60 per cent if the quality of seeds is poor, forcing farmers to take the extreme step,” the officer added.
Agriculture Minister BC Patil said that the reducing number of farmer suicides is the result of collective effort and good rain. “Farm laws have helped farmers get a better market. Our officials have become more vigilant and seized sub-standard seeds. Also, there is no tax for inter-state movement of agri-produce. The yield has been good. We need to focus on food-processing units which we have started. This will further provide better markets to farmers,” he added. When pointed out that of the many reported suicide cases, families of the deceased farmers are yet to get compensation, Patil said there is no shortage of funds. “In some cases, Additional Commissioner Committees have to approve and furnish required documents, only then can compensation be paid,’’ he added.
Countering the government claims, Kodihalli Chandrashekar of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, insisted that farmer suicides are not coming down. “The officials are either not registering all the suicides or this is incomplete information. This number is not acceptable as farmers continue to be in distress,’’ he said.
Green shoots a hope
2021-22 96 (so far)