Sunday, February 11, 2007

Brief note on Farmers Suicides

The crisis small farmers in India face as a result of globalization and government apathy. For the past ten years farmers have been committing suicide in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, Andhrapradesh, and Karnataka as in many other parts of India. More than 1.5 lakh farmers have committed suicide across the country in the last decade due to financial distress, as per government’s report to the Parliament of India.
The main act of this tragedy started in mid 60's with the introduction of the Green Revolution. Earlier, farmers saved their own seeds and practiced organic farming. The money they invested on their farms was very little. But with Green Revolution farmers were asked to buy seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, forcing them to borrow, mostly from private money lenders at exorbitant interest rates. With every farming season their debt increased and over the course of years it led to a loan trap. The second phase of this tragic situation can be directly attributed to 'globalization'. Under the WTO (World Trade Organization) regime, which favors wealthy industrialized countries, the Indian government has eliminated or reduced its support to farmers, while Indian agriculture is invaded by multinationals.
As per National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), nearly half of the farming households in the country are reported to be indebted” The two most important reasons for taking a loan is for “capital expenditure in farm business” and “current expenditure in farm business”. This has a relation with the increasing costs of cultivation, increased need for expenditure in farming and also lack of ability to repay due to adverse market conditions.
Out of the total number of cultivator households in the country, only 27% receive credit from formal sources and 22% from informal sources, as per the Finance Minister of India, showcasing the “financial exclusion” of a vast majority of farming households.
Every farming household in the country on an average has a debt of Rs. 12,585/-.