Farmer suicides dropped 10% in 2016: Govt tells Parliament | india news | Hindustan Times
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Farmer suicides dropped 10% in 2016: Govt tells Parliament

According to the 2011 census, the suicide rate among farmers is 47% higher than the national average. In 2016, Maharashtra accounted for the most suicides at 3,661.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2018 13:43 IST
Zia Haq
Farmers from Tamil Nadu held protests for days at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in August 2017, demanding the government’s help as mass suicides occurred  among the farming community.
Farmers from Tamil Nadu held protests for days at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in August 2017, demanding the government’s help as mass suicides occurred among the farming community. (Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)

India’s high suicide rate among farmers – a national problem attributed to agrarian distress and debt traps – fell 10% in 2016, according to figures revealed by the government in Parliament.

The number of farmers who committed suicide in 2016 was 11,370, compared to 12,602 the previous year. According to the 2011 census, the suicide rate among farmers is 47% higher than the national average. Overall, more land-owning farmers than farm labourers took their lives, minister of state for agriculture Parshottam Rupala said.

Maharashtra accounted for the highest number of farmer suicides in 2016, at 3,661. This was a fall from 4,291 in 2015. In Karnataka, the second-worst-hit state, the number of suicides rose from 1,569 in 2015 to 2,029 the next year.

The National Crime Records compiles data on suicides, including that of farmers, in the country. Reports on suicides are available up to 2015. The report for 2016 has not been published yet.

“The drop could be because of several interventional policies over the years. But I’d say this decline is only marginal,” said professor AV Manjunatha of the Institute for Social and Economic Change, who r authored an all-India study on farm suicides.

Agriculture contributes just 13.7% to India’s GDP but employs two-thirds of its population. This points to ‘disguised employment’ (situation where more people are employed than is necessary for a given level of output) and low productivity in the sector.

The data cited in the reply showed that Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka continue to be farmer-suicide hotspots. Together, they account for almost 80% of all suicides. “The data is questionable. In many states such as West Bengal, there are zero suicides. There is inconsistency, from what one gleans from grassroots work. This could be because of under-reporting or convenient classification,” said Kavitha Kuruganti of the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture. A farmer’s suicide can get under-reported if it is attributed to a non-agricultural cause, she said.