Editorial Notes

Reasons for farm labour’s suicide: NCRB Data

Local moneylenders are usually portrayed as the villains in India’s farmer-suicides narrative, but government data shows that 80 per cent of farmers killed themselves in 2015 because of bankruptcy or debts after taking loans from banks and registered microfinance institutions.
By IT's Editorial Board
January 11, 2017


GS (M) Paper-2: “Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections”


Reasons for farm labour’s suicide: NCRB Data


Latest data on farmer suicides compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that Agricultural labourers are more likely to commit suicide because of “Family Problems” and “Illness” than the rest of the population in India.


Highlights of the study:

  • Farm labourers are also more likely than farmers to fall into the trap of moneylenders and end their lives.
  • Small farmers were 45.2% of all farmer victims, while marginal farmers made up 27.4%.
  • Medium farmers, who have between 2 hectares and 10 hectares of land, contributed a fourth of the 8,007 farmer suicides in the country in 2015.
  • The report says less than 2% of farmers who committed suicide were large farmers with more than 10 hectares of land.
  • Family problems and illness were responsible for nearly 60% of the deaths of the 4,595 farm labourers who ended their lives in 2015. This percentage was well above the national average of 43%.
  • Other prominent causes of suicide among agricultural labourers were Alcoholic Addiction, Poverty, Bankruptcy or Indebtedness from Financial Institutions/Moneylenders etc.,
  • In a general sense, farmers who have alternate sources of livelihood may cope with the crisis better when compared to those who may depend almost entirely on farming. This may be one of the factors separating the marginal from the small farmers.
  • Also, farmers who are enterprising and have seen success can find it difficult to handle the situation when things fail.

State-wise distribution:

  • Agricultural labourers in Maharashtra were the most suicide prone, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Kerala.
  • These states together accounted for 82.6% of all such suicides (3,797 out of 4,595) in the country during 2015.
  • Among suicides committed by “Small Farmers” — Maharashtra again topped with a 35.5% share, followed by Karnataka which accounted for 20% of such suicides.
  • Goa, Manipur and West Bengal, besides all Union Territories except Puducherry, reported no incident of suicide by agricultural labourers during 2015.

Share of land under cultivation:

  • According to landholding census by the Ministry of Agriculture, 67.1% of all landholdings are marginal — smaller than 1 hectare.
  • While 17.9% are small (1-2 hectares). Medium (2-10 hectares) and large (over 10 hectares) holdings are 14.3% and 0.7% of the total respectively.
  • The census shows that the operational holding (i.e., the area under cultivation) with marginal farmers is 22.5%, with small farmers it is 22.1%, with medium farmers it is 44.8%, and with large farmers it is 10.6%.
[Ref: Indian Express]


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