According to the latest data by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 11370 farmers committed suicide in 2016, revealed the Union Minister of State for Panchayati Raj, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Parshottam Rupala in the Parliament.
In 2017, nearly 400 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra. This was in addition to the 1982 farmer suicides in the state in 2014, 3228 in 2015 and 3052 in 2016.
Recently, the ministers used the 2016 provisional data in the Parliament because the NCRB has not updated its data in nearly 15 months. The total farmer suicides in the country in 2014, 2013 and 2015 were 12,360 and 11,772 and 12602 respectively.
In states like Karnataka, the number of farmer suicides also spiked from 1569 in 2015 to 2079 in 2016. Among other states, Chhattisgarh reported 682 suicides in 2016; Gujarat reported 408 and Punjab 471.
Surprisingly, states like West Bengal and Bihar reported zero farmer suicides in 2016.
Renowned journalist P Sainath pointed out that almost 3 lakh farmers had killed themselves between 1995 and 2013. But soon after the Modi Government resumed office the numbers have rocketed past 3.3 lakhs.
Why farmer suicides increased?
Even after the Government’s continuous assurance to ease problems in the agricultural sector, one farmer kills himself every hour in India. Among the 11370 suicides in 2016, 6351 were farmers/cultivators, while 5019 were agricultural labourers.
Bankruptcy and farming related issues were the major causes of such suicides, according to the 2015 NCRB report.
The farmers’ demands include loan waiver, free electricity, the appropriate price for their produce, grant for irrigation and a higher price for milk.
Besides the problems of droughts and debt cycles faced by the farmers, many economists estimate that the demonetisation policy announced by the government in 2016 has only added to their woes.