Farm suicides up 2% in 2015

Villagers walk on dry bed of Mervewadi lake in Karad, Maharashtra on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 PTI
 Around 12,602 persons in the farm sector committed suicide in 2015, almost 2 per cent more than in 2014, highlighting the distress in rural areas of India because of two consecutive years of drought.

According to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), of the 12,602 persons, 8,007 were farmers or cultivators, while the remaining 4,595 were farm labourers.

People engaged in the farm sector comprise farmers and farm labourers.

Both in 2014 and 2015, the number of suicides in the farm sector was 9.4 per cent of the total.

The number of farmers committing suicide rose more than 41 per cent in 2015 over 2014.

The number of farm labourers committing suicide dropped more than 31 per cent, the data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show.

Nearly 39 per cent of the suicides by farmers were because of bankruptcy, indebtedness or farming-related issues, which also accounted for almost 20 per cent of the suicides by farm labourers.

The number of suicides by small and marginal farmers who owned less than 1 hectare (1 hectare=10,000 square metres) accounted for almost 73 per cent of the suicides.

In 2014 too, almost 73 per cent of the suicides were by small and marginal farmers.

“A highly erratic and inadequate monsoon in the last 2-3 years has aggravated the problems of persons engaged in the farming sector, manifestations of these in extreme situations can be seen in the form of farmers suicides,” the NCRB said.

Maharashtra once again came on top of the list of states with the highest number of suicides in the farm sector, 4,291 in 2015. It was followed by Karnataka (1,559), Telangana (1,400), Madhya Pradesh (1,290), Chhattisgarh (954), and Andhra Pradesh (916).

“This data on farmer suicides do not show the real picture and there is massive under-reporting. The reasons are also not very accurate. Nonetheless, this clearly shows the adverse impact of economic stress in rural areas for the last few years due to consecutive years of drought and drop in farm-gate rates,” Sudhir Panwar, member of the UP Planning Commission, told Business Standard.

The rise in farmer suicides also reflects the inadequate immediate relief the Centre provided to states impacted by drought. 

“By the time relief reaches a farmer, he is already on the verge of suicide,” he added.

India’s agricultural growth in the first two years of the Narendra Modi government had averaged 1.6 per cent due to back-to-back drought in 2014 and 2015, the fourth such instance in more than 100 years. The drought had impacted more than 10 states, leading to widespread water scarcity.