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Farmer Suicide: more expenses less income (Indebtedness)

Indebtedness is now considered as the primary reason for 55% of farmer suicides in 2015 and more than 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide across the nation since 1995. Nearly 70% of India’s 90 million agricultural households spend more that they earn on an average each month, which pushes them towards debt.

The agricultural households in the south are most indebted due to additional loans that the poor families take to meet the health issues because of which they have no ability to invest in farming. Shockingly loans for health reasons have doubled over a decade to 2012 and on the other hand loans for farm business fell by half over the same period.

The region of southern India are highly indebted like Andhra Pradesh (93%) followed by Telangana (89%) and Tamil Nadu (82.1%). The nationwide figure is 52%.

Apart from meagre farm income, the rise in healthcare costs also increases farmer debt. The loan amount for health reasons have doubled from 3% in 2002 to 6% in 2012 according to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

Meanwhile, loans for farm businesses fell from 58% in 2002 to 29% in 2012. Majority of India’s rural population uses private healthcare services, which are four times costly as public healthcare and can cost 20% poorest Indians more than 15 times their average monthly expenditure.

On the other note Loan waivers is not a solution. India faces a total loan waiver of Rs 3.1 lakh crore which is 2.6% of country’s gross domestic product in 2016-2017.

In 2016 budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had promised to double farmer’s income by 2022. Subsequently, Union minister for human resource development Prakash Javadekar pointed out a seven-point strategy to double farm income , which included measures to step up irrigation , prevent post -harvest losses and provide better quality seeds.

Well the efforts made by the government will face a range of challenges which includes: absence of infrastructure like warehouses etc, increasing the cost of farm input like seeds. Fertilisers and irrigation. And the fact that 85% of the farmers don’t have insurance as well.

It is very clear that in order to diminish India’s farm crisis people should make a multidimensional and prolonged solution to address each of these difficulties because loan waiver is not the only one option.

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Tags: Indebtedness, Farmer Suicide


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