Farmer suicides: From 2019 to 2021, more than 5000 farmers died by suicide each year

From the 3 controversial farms laws to decreasing allocations in every major schemes for the farmers, whose interest is the government protecting?

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On February 13, Shri Bhupender Yadav, Minister of Labour and Employment, provided the Lok Sabha with information regarding the number of profession-wise suicides that took place in the country during 2019 to 2021. Basing the same on the latest published data of the received from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the data reveals that in the year 2019, 2020 and 2021, over 5,000 farmers died by suicide across India each year. Answering in response to a question raised by Shri Su.Thirunavukkarasar(INC), the ministry provided the data.

According to the data, as many as 5,318 farmers died by suicide in 28 states and eight union territories in 2021. There is a slight decrease in the number of suicides in comparison to the previous years, as the number was 5579 in 2020 and 5957 in 2019. The state-wise data for the same has not been available by the Ministry.

These number come as a rude awakening to the worrisome state of farmers in India. The consistently high numbers of farmer suicide over these years, while a variety of relief measures, such as providing loans at lower rates of interest, sometimes free of any collateral, has been implemented do not appear to have helped arrest this tragic trend where those who till the land, are forced to take such a drastic step.

As per the data provided by the NCRB for the year 2021, suicides by the farmers accounted for 6.6% of total suicides victims (1,64,033) in the country. Out of 5,318 farmer/cultivator suicides, a total of 5,107 were male and 211 were female. Unlike previous years, the NCRB did not provide a state-wise data for the same.

The complete answer can be read here.

State-wise data of the year 2020

According to the data provided for the year 2020, as many as 5,570 farmers died by suicide in 28 states and eight union territories in 2020. Of these 2,567 were from Maharashtra alone. Karnataka came in second with 1,072 deaths by suicide.

In 2019, across India, 5,945 farmers died by suicide, out of which 2,680 were from Maharashtra and 1,331 from Karnataka. In 2018, as many as 5,747 people died by suicide, of which 2,239 were from Maharashtra and 1,365 from Karnataka.

States like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab and Chhattisgarh also recorded hundreds of deaths every year during this three-year period.

In 2020, Andhra Pradesh saw 546 suicide deaths, while Telangana saw 466, Punjab 174 and Chhattisgarh 227. In 2019, Andhra Pradesh saw 628 suicide deaths, while Telangana saw 491, Punjab 239 and Chhattisgarh 233. In 2018, Andhra Pradesh saw 365 suicide deaths, while Telangana saw 900, Punjab 229 and Chhattisgarh 182.

No suicide deaths were reported from Haryana, Jharkhand, Goa, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and the Union Territories of Chandigarh, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.

Budget cuts in allocation for agriculture sector

This comes after Farmers’ Organizations slammed the Union Budget 2023-24, alleging that the Centre has “literally taken revenge” on farmers for their historic movement that caused the roll-back of the three agricultural laws by lowering allocations in every major scheme, including Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana and PM Fasal Bima Yojana. Farmers had anticipated the finance minister to announce something to provide them minimum support price (MSP) as per the Swaminathan Commission formula of paying them 1.5 times remuneration of cost prices, according to Ashok Dhawale, head of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

Farmers, according to Dhawale, are facing issues such as climate change, recession, and growing input costs. Nonetheless, the Centre chose to reduce agriculture allocation from Rs 1,24,000 crore in 2022-23 to Rs 1,15,531.79 crore this year. Dhawale stated that Rs 60,000 crore was insufficient, citing the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, which gave monetary help to 12 crore farmers.

There has also been a drastic cut in fertiliser subsidies from Rs.2,25,000 crore in 2022-23 Revised Estimates (RE) to Rs.1,75,000 crore in Budget Estimates (BE) of 2023-24, a 22% cut of Rs.50,000 crore. 

Protest against the Anti-Farmer budget

On February 9, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella platform of various farmers’ unions, announced that a ‘Kisan Mahapanchyat’ will be organised outside the Parliament in Delhi on March 20.

Farmers’ unions have also announced that the motive behind holding this ‘Mahapanchayat’ will be to fight for a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP), terming the 2023 Budget as “anti-farmer.”

The SKM’s demands include, among other things, the withdrawal of cases against farmers, a Rs 5,000 monthly pension for farmers, debt forgiveness, the dismissal of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra, whose son is an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, and compensation for those who died during the farmers’ strike.

Senior SKM leader Dr Darshan Pal after the meeting of the farmers’ unions at Kurukshetra in Haryana told The New Indian Express that the body has decided to hold ‘Kisan Mahapanchyat’ in Delhi on March 20 and they will seek permission for it to be held at the Ram Lila ground, and if not given permission then they will hold it at Jantar Mantar.

Protesting farmers lathi-charged in Maharashtra

On February 12, Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole accused the Buldhana police of unleashing a “brutal baton charge” on farmers during a demonstration and demanded that the district superintendent of police be suspended (SP). Patole claimed that the Buldhana police “brutally lathi-charged” the farmers on February 11 as they were protesting for the proper price for cotton and soybeans, as well as compensation for those who had lost crop insurance.

According to the New Indian Express, Congress district president Rahul Bondre and former minister Rajendra Shingane were also halted by police while on their way to visit the protesting farmers. Patole also condemned the Shinde-Fadnavis government and decried the “police crimes” against protesting farmers, claiming that the farmers were simply expressing their democratic right to demand a fair price for their produce.

Patole argued that under the BJP’s control, farming is no longer cheap due to the high cost of fertilisers, seeds, and diesel. Crops were devastated owing to natural calamities this (financial) year as well, and farmers from 16 districts incurred losses, according to Patole.


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