Status Report of Farmers Suicide for Indian States

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) published the Accidental death & Suicide in India (ADSI) report for 2018 yesterday. The report gives account of the farmers suicide happening in India.

Source: ADSI, 2018, 2017, 2016, NCRB

The data shows a decline in the overall number of farmers suicide happening in 2018 as compared to the previous years. There were 10349 suicides in India in 2018. There has been a decline not only in farmers who cultivate in their own land or leased land, the same is also noted for the agricultural labours.

Source: ADSI, 2018, 2017, NCRB

Maharashtra and Karnataka account for almost 60% of all the suicides happening in India. It must be noted that Maharashtra and Karnataka are among the richest states in terms of overall state contribution in GDP. So such a high contribution in farmers suicide for these two states is alarming. Apart from these two, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are in the top 5 states in terms of number of farmers suicides. If we look at the growth rate between 2017 and 2018, it will be seen that among these 5 states, while Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh has seen a significant decline in the number of farmer suicides in 2018 as compared to 2017, there has been a significant increase in the number of farmers suicides for Karnataka and Telengana. Maharashtra noted a marginal decline of 3%. Bihar, Odhisa, Uttarkahand and West Bengal has seen not a single farmers suicide in 2018. For the later 3 the same is true for 2017 as well.

Various reasons have been offered to explain why farmers commit suicide in India. There is no consensus on what the main causes might be but studies show suicide victims are motivated by more than one cause, on average three or more causes for committing suicide, the primary reasons being the inability to repay loans. A study conducted in 2014 by Jonathan Kennedy and Lawrence King, found that there are three specific characteristics associated with high-risk farmers: “those that grow cash crops such as coffee and cotton; those with ‘marginal’ farms of less than one hectare; and those with debts of 300 Rupees or more”. The top five states as listed above has the highest combination of the three reasons cited in the 2014 study. These states contribute to almost 80% of all the farmers suicide happening in India. So a thorough focus on agriculture is required for these 5 states not only by the respective state governments, but also by the central government.

IPD sincerely hopes a specific focus committee is set up with the central government, state governments of these five states and experts to come out with concrete measures to eradicate farmers suicide completely. A beginning in this regard can be made in the upcoming budget seasons in both the parliament and the state assemblies with some concrete measures taken in this regard collectively.

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