There is a popular saying, “we might need a lawyer once, we might need a doctor once, but we need farmers every day to ensure we get the food to eat,” but looks like we have taken the farmers for granted. The unfortunate part is that all this is happening in India, where the agricultural sector has played a significant role in the economy.
As per the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) report, at least 10,349 farmers ended their lives in 2018, which accounts for approximately 7.7% of all the suicide cases that took place in the country. The report stated that many states, including Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand reported zero cases of farmer suicides. In contrast, states such as Maharashtra recorded 17,972 cases of farmer suicides followed by Tamil Nadu (13,896 cases), West-Bengal (13,255 cases), Madhya Pradesh(11,775 cases) and Karnataka (11,561 cases).
All these states accounted for almost 50% of the cases, whereas other cases occurred in the remaining states and Union Territories. Among the Union territories scenario, Delhi recorded the most cases (2,526 cases), followed by Puducherry (500 cases). Such data is a matter of concern because the report also states that there had been a 3.6% increase in 2018 than in 2017, which makes us think, where are we going wrong? Why is it that the people who feed us are forced to take such a drastic step?
The primary reasons agrarian distress occurs is due to vagaries of nature, land fragmentation, rising agricultural costs, lack of institutional credit, etc. Although some steps such as PM Fasal Bima Yojna, PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana have been introduced to help the farmers, if such cases are still happening, it indicates that these steps are not enough.
To stop these cases from happening, it is necessary to ensure that institutional financing is available and accessible for all the farmers. NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), along with local administration, can work together to devise required policies for the financial needs of the farmers.
As far as marketing is concerned, the long-chain intermediaries between the farmer and consumer need to be reduced—as this process negatively affects the farmer’s income. A multi-featured income generation plan needs to be formulated for the farmers rather than just giving loan waivers—as loan waivers are only a temporary solution to a farmer’s problems.
For years, farmers of this country have made sure that they contribute towards the nation’s economy. Hence, it is not only the duty of the elected governments but also other people who can contribute towards the welfare of the farmers, so that they are not forced to take any drastic step.