Tuesday, April 14, 2009
ISLAMABAD: In India, according to the statistics of National Crime Records Bureau, around 200,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1997.
Another government report published in 2007 suggested that “about 12 per cent of marginal and small farmers have left farming” over the past few years, the BBC reported. Punjab, a major producer of food grain in India, has faced many economic crises since the mid-1990s.
A report commissioned by the government of Punjab this week estimated that there had been “close to 3,000 suicides” among farmers and farm labourers in just two of Punjab’s 20 districts in recent years.
Almost every village in Punjab has witnessed a suicide in their once-prosperous farming families and it is a major issue in the general election. Each year before the harvest, the small farmers of Punjab, who make up nearly 85 per cent of the state’s farming community, borrow from local rural moneylenders at exorbitant interest rates to meet production costs, including fertilisers and electricity for irrigation. Defaulting on payment increases the rates of interest and a farmer is publicly humiliated in the local panchayat if he fails to pay up.