Three state universities -Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana; Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar; and Punjabi University (PU), Patiala-have recently announced that they will soon begin with a survey on suicides committed by farmers from 2011 but farmers across the state want this survey should first cover the suicides taken place post the culmination of this wheat season than beginning from 2011.
The farmers said they are sure that the suicides this year are more as compared to the last couple of years. "The weather this year, especially from February till April, played a very negative role as constant rainfall, hailstorm and high-velocity winds caused damages to the wheat crop, leaving the farmers at the receiving end. Thus most of the farmers earned nothing and rather got trapped under more debt,"lamented a group of farmers hailing from various pockets of the state during their visit to the PAU on Wednesday.
They said, "That's why we want the three universities of the state to bring to the fore the actual situation of suicides this year to make the government apprised about the plight of the farmers. We thank media for vehemently highlighting the suicide cases."
Gurpreet Singh, a farmer from Jalandhar, and Kulbir Singh from Gurdaspur said the productivity, yield and even quality of wheat declined this year which left the farmers' cup of woes brimming over. Rising suicides means the state government, which has enough money to organise state-level functions and to spend on advertisements for self promotion, has failed to help the farmers.
Senior economist from PAU, Mohinder Singh Sidhu, said, according to Food Corporation of India (FCI), this year Punjab's contribution of wheat to the central pool has declined by 16.89 lakh tonnes. Last year, its contribution was 116.41 lakh tonnes. The state could not achieve the target of procuring 120 lakh tonnes of wheat as it was able to achieved only 99.52 lakh tonnes. This procurement target was already revised from 125 lakh tonnes in March by the FCI considering the unending inclement weather, he added.
"Weather may have damaged the crop this year but we are still ahead of all other states in contribution to the central pool. In 2013-14, Punjab's wheat production was 17.62 million tonne and for 2014-15, the estimate pointed at 15.5 million tonne. On the other hand, the country's buffer stock for both wheat and rice is sufficient to feed its population which stands at 61.8 million tonne,"said Sidhu.
Meanwhile, all the three universities have received letters from the state government regarding a grant of Rs 10 lakh to be given to each university for conducting the survey on suicides but funds are awaited yet. Experts who will start the survey, had earlier told HT that not every case of suicide is associated with agricultural issues as sometimes personal reasons trigger farmers to take extreme steps.
Punjab's contribution to central pool
Year Punjab (lakh tonne)
2011-12 109.58 (38.67%)
2012-13 128.34 (33.64%)
2013-14 108.97 (43.43%)
2014-15 116.41 (41.54%)
2015-16 99.52 (36.88%)
Source: Food Corporation of India