India is basically an agricultural country in which the farmers form the backbone. However Farmer's suicides have emerged as a major problem.
Ironically this issue was flagged way back when P. Sainath,the rural affairs correspondent of The Hindu newspaper first reported the regular suicides of farmers in early 1990s. If we look into the insight we notice that approximately ten thousand farmers have reported suicide every yearsince then.
Quoting few lines from the famous speech delivered by Paul Harvey's �
�And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer.'
But sadly the plight of Indian Farmers is getting even worse.According to NCRB overwhelming majority of farmers commit suicides because of economic distress. Other economic factors such as poverty, bankruptcy, or farming-related issues are the key drivers of farm-related suicides.
However the question remains the same, what steps can be taken to solve this issue?
There cannot be one single solution to end the woes of farmers. Besides giving monetary relief is not an effective solution. The solutions should aim at the entire structure of agriculture some of which are-
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AVAILABLE-Indebtedness is considered as the root cause for the suicide of farmers. They normally resort to borrowing money in absence of institutionalized finance. So possible solution can be making institutional finance available to every farmer so that they can be saved from traps of vicious money lenders.Even where the institutional finance is available, it should be noticed that it is easily accessible to the poorest farmers which calls for removing of elaborate procedures for obtaining the loans.
MORDERNIZATION OF AGRICULTURE- There is a need to modernize the agriculture which will help by all means. Research efforts should continue for the production of crops with higher yield potential and better resistance to pests. During drought and weather conditions, farmers should be helped to shift to cultivating crops which would be easy and economical to cultivate.
BETTER WATER MANAGEMENT-The dependency of agriculture on nature should be reduced which requires effective management of water during seasons of good monsoons. The aim of the government should be prevention of crop failure. Water management should be made more effective through inter- state co-operation on water resources, where surplus water from perennial rivers can be diverted to those regions facing drought, as it is always seen in India.Construction of National Waterways will improve the irrigation facility, which in turn can save the farmers, if the monsoon would fail.
LAND POOLING- Another solution could pooling of the lands of small farmers and making a bigger chunk of economically cultivable land. Through pooling of lands, the small farmers can avail the economies of cultivating on a larger scale. The farmers need to be made aware of some techniques like crop rotation too.
ALTERNATE SOURCE OF INCOME- Small farmers should be encouraged to develop alternative sources of income. In areas affected by drought, the government should start alternative employment generation programs to Farmers should be encouraged to divide their activities into three parts,One for regular crop production, one for animal husbandry or fisheries and another for timber production. These activities complement each other and thus alternate source of income could be ensured too.
CROP INSURANCE POLICIES-Crop insurance is must and the claim should be settled easily under the supervision of the district collectors. Index based insurance should be used as it is transparent and also insurers within the defined geographical area are treated equally. It has low operational and transnational costs, while also ensuring quick payouts.
The need of the hour is holistic thinking in which all concerned parties to farming, the farmer, moneylender, government and even the end consumer should be collectively involved .Also farmer's plight should be directed towards enabling them to help themselves and sustain on their own. Temporary measurelike monetary relief is not the solution.The Government needs to come up with pro-active solutions and we need to realize that farmers' suicides are not minor issues happening in remote parts of a few states, but instead it is a reflection of the true state of the basis of our economy.
- Aayushi Shukla