Agriculture in India is the predominant occupation of the majority. With more than half of the population depending on agriculture as primary occupation, India is the second largest country in terms of arable area. However farmers in India, like many other countries, are bound to live an intensely hard life. In spite of being feeders of the entire nation, they live in misery and poverty, which many times leads them to end their lives.
Causes of Farmer's Suicide
The primary cause of farmer's suicide is their poverty. The inception of miserable condition of farmers dates back to the colonial era when the British imposed hard hitting revenue system. Be it Permanent Settlement, Ryotwari or Mahalwari, all were aimed at extracting more and more revenue. This exorbitant revenue created a new class of moneylenders. After independence, efforts have been made by government for farmers to end the vicious cycle of debt trap by controlling moneylenders, yet this system is quite prevalent in villages. A major reason for this is inability of government to provide financial benefits to needy farmers through institutional means. Instead it has been found that a major portion of institutional loans is taken by big and rich farmers who instead use it for non-agricultural purpose. In absence of institutional loans, small farmers are forced to go to moneylenders, who usually charge more interest. However in case of crop failure or low price for crops, when these farmers are unable to repay loan, they are harassed, which many times forces them to end their life.
Another big reason for the poverty of farmers is their unawareness towards what crop to grow according to the weather and soil condition, which may pay them high. Below threshold production or crop failure brings low to no remunerations, which causes piling up of interest on the loans taken. This again brings heavy exploitation of the farmers, again forcing them to end their life.
The solution to the problem lies in increasing the agricultural production, proper payments to farmers against their crops and for financial help, encouragement of institutional loans through banks.
The increase in production would ultimately improve their financial conditions. It would also prevent them from getting into debt trap of moneylenders. For this steps must be taken to encourage the farmers to grow crops according to weather predictions and soil conditions. Also steps must be taken to improve the quality of land by proper use of manure. Some significant steps in this direction are Soil Health card, PradhanMantriKrishiSinchaiYojna, cutting of Montanso Royalty by 70% etc. Optimum use of technology must be made to increase the crop production. For this better quality and genetically modified seeds must be provided. After harvesting, provision must be made for proper store houses. Removal of intermediaries and direct to market schemes must be encouraged. This would definitely improve their financial conditions.
Even in case if they have to resort to borrowing, encouragement must be made towards institutional loans through banks. Strict watch must be kept that the loan is being provided to needy farmers only and that too used for agricultural purpose only.
In case of crop failure or below production, financial assistance may be provided to them. A humanitarian approach must be applied during the recovery of loans from them. If required concession on loan repayment may be provided.
An important requirement is that government schemes must be so formed that they can be applied generically over the entire area, equally benefitting all. If schemes are not made benefitting all, they tend to create two specific classes- one exploiting and the other exploited. The exploited class generally consists of small farmers or agricultural peasants, who in absence of any safeguard tend to commit suicide.
In addition, avenues for alternative souse of income must be provided to farmers, so that in case of crop failure, they may be able to sustain their livelihood.
Farmers are the food providers of the nation. In words of SamualJhonson,
"Farmers not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own".
Their contribution in making of nation can never be under estimated. However on one hand their life is poverty ridden and pitiful, on the other hand, the remaining population is becoming luxurious. It is high time when steps must be taken to improve their condition and provide them with protection from exploitation, else their alienation may prove disastrous to the country as well as individual.
- Rishabh Srivastava