Telangana: 3036 Farmer Suicides In 3 Years, Second Highest In India’s Youngest State
Telangana state has become the second top state in farmer suicides for the second consecutive time in 2015, with of 1,358 farmers taking their own lives, according to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB).
As reported by The Week, Beeram Ramulu, the state vice president of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, an NGO working amidst farmers, said that 3036 farmers have killed themselves in the past three years. In 2014, there were 792 suicides, in 2015, 1147 suicides, in 2016, 784 suicides and in 2017, from the month of January to the month of June, there have been 294 suicides, in which the government has compensated close to 700 affected families.
Ramulu also added that there had been suicides in abundance since the Telangana Rashtra Samithi took over the 29th state in 2014. “The government has not even acknowledged the problem because this government believes if you ignore the problem it might go away,” he said.
Many farmers, oftentimes with small land holdings, cannot avail bank loans so depend on the mercy of private money lenders, who give them the money at higher interest rates.
As reported by NDTV, a series of small farmers complaint that the government had advised them to switch from growing maize to cotton this year, as the prices of cotton would possibly crash on account of an oversupply. The Chief Minister propagated this theory too. But maize cannot resist delayed rain, while cotton is much more hardy. The scarcity of rainfall in the month of August resulted in the very less production in the said crop.
In April 2016, 32-year-old Kodishala Raju sold one acre of land in an attempt to pay off debtors who were getting increasingly aggressive. It proved to be a futile exercise. He had borrowed four lakhs. The sale of the farm did not cover even the interest he owed. He also needed another loan for the Kharif or monsoon crop. He tried to configure solutions. He grew maize on land that he leased. When that too dried up, he drank pesticide and killed himself.
His wife, Geeta, says that neither compensation nor assistance was given to them from the government.
After three successive years of drought, the state of Telangana is on furlough from drought.
M Kodandaram who runs Telangana Rythu Joint Action Committee – an association of different farmer bodies says that the amount of Rs 700 crores were issued to aid the Telangana farmers in April by the centre, but the money was not distributed.
The situation is dire in other parts of India as well. As per the NCRB data, nearly 14 lakh tenant farmers are there in the state of Odisha out of the total 56 lakh cultivators. In 2011, Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed an act which assured the access of 0% interest on crop loans to the tenant farmers from banks, crop insurance and other agricultural subsidies.
Ramulu said that the involvement of tribal farmers was enormous. As the tribals usually work on small patches of lands but, in the areas like; Jayashankar bhoopalpalli, Khammam and Bhadradri Kothagudem, they leased the land this year.
“They had to opt for the private money lenders since they did not utilise bank loans, resulted in their misery of unable to payback their loan and also in price hikes and less production of crops.” Ramulu added.
The farmers leased lands and shifted their cultivation from cotton to chilli, as it fetched them a very good price, compared to cotton. The glut could not help them, because the middlemen working in the market yards fixed prices which fell from Rs.14,000 to Rs. 4,000 per quintal and lead to all kinds of problems in khammam for almost a month. The farmers had demanded a Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 10,000 per quintal, but prices had dropped to Rs 3,000 per quintal, which angered them. The Chief Minister did not talk about it and neither did he visit the place.
The Logical Indian community hopes that the state government would provide compensation and assistance to these farmers and requests the Chief Minister to go to the grass root level and pay heed to their demands.