Determinants of Farmers’ Suicide in India – A State Level Analysis

 

Chethana B

Research Scholar, Department of Studies in Economics and Co-operation, University of Mysore, Manasagangothri, Mysuru.

 

 

ABSTRACT:

India is an agrarian country with around 48.9% of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture. Despite a steady decline of its share in GDP, agriculture is still the largest economic sector and plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic development of our country. It is the main source of food to the growing population. Unfortunately due to uncertainty of monsoon, non-availability of credit, increasing prices of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, agriculture has become a most critical industry and farmers are suffering due to economic distress and they are committing suicide on large scale in different provinces of the country. Nowadays the problem of farmers’ suicides is one of the vital concerns that need to be addressed by the Government. Considering the paramount importance of this issue, the NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau), for the first time, has collected detailed data on farmers’ suicides. The large section of the farm households has been facing a distress as a consequence of decline in agricultural income, declined repaying capacity and thereby increased debt burden than others. The failure of these monsoons leading to a series of droughts, lack of better prices, exploitation by Middlemen, all of which have led to a series of suicides committed by farmers across India. With this backdrop this study is going to make a state level analysis of the determinants of the farmers’ suicide in India. The results have some policy implications.

 

KEYWORDS: Agriculture, Farmers’ Suicide, Agrarian Crisis, Insurance, Irrigation.

 

1. INTRODUCTION:

It is a known fact that most of the Indian population lives in the villages and majority of villagers are engaged in agriculture. Agriculture along with other allied activities like animal husbandry, forestry and fisheries is a dynamic and an important component of our economy that provides livelihood for more than 50 percent of our people. The economic prosperity of India to a major extent depends on prosperity of agriculture.  Despite a steady decline of its share in GDP, agriculture is still the largest economic sector and plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic development of our country (Purnanand Nagappa Sangalad and Malakajappa Gyanappa Huddar, 2011). It is the main source of food to the growing population. Unfortunately due to uncertainty of monsoon, non-availability of credit, increasing prices of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, agriculture has become a most critical industry and farmers are suffering due to economic distress and they are committing suicide on

 

 


large scale in different provinces of the country. Farmers’ indebtedness is one of the main causes of distress in the agriculture sector. Almost half (49 percent) of India’s farmer households are indebted. The small and marginal farmers get the loan at a higher rate of interest from private money lenders due to non availability of institutional credit (Purnanand Nagappa Sangalad and Malakajappa Gyanappa Huddar, 2011). As a result they are unable to clear of the loan of the private money lenders and enter in to vicious debt trap. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has a negative impact on the Indian farmers. The prices of agricultural products before the WTO agreement in India were lower than the international prices. But as a result of heavy subsidization of agricultural products by developed countries, the situation has changed. The prices of International Agricultural Products have become lower than the Indian agricultural prices. This has resulted in the growing unrest among the farmers in different states and pushed them in to hopeless condition. It has drawn the attention of the government about the sad plight of the Indian farmers due to the WTO obligations (Naveen kumar C, 2013).

 

1.1 Farmers Suicide

India is an agrarian country with around 48.9% of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture. Nowadays the problem of farmers’ suicides is one of the vital concerns that need to be addressed by the Government. Considering the paramount importance of this issue, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), for the first time (2014), has collected detailed data on farmers’ suicides. Farmers include those who own and work on field (viz. cultivators) as well as those who employ or hire workers for field work or farming activities. It excludes agricultural labourers. A total of 5,650 farmers have committed suicides during 2014, accounting for 4.3% of total suicides victims in the country. (ADSI Report, 2014).

 

The problem of farmer suicides has become a serious matter. The toll is increasing year after year. According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), as many as 5,650 farmers committed suicide in India last year. This works out to one farmer suicide in every 100 villages or one farmer suicide in every block in the country last year. State-wise, Maharashtra accounted for the highest number of farmer suicides (2568) distantly followed by Telangana (898), Madhya Pradesh (826), Chhattisgarh (443) and Karnataka (321). These five states together accounted for about 90 per cent of total farmer suicides  (ADSI Report, 2014).

 

NCRB pointed out that bankruptcy or indebtedness was the main cause,  accounting for 20.6 per cent, closely followed by family issues (20.1 per cent), failure of crops (16.8 per cent), illness (13.2 per cent), whereas alcoholic addiction accounted for 4.9 per cent cases. These five causes together accounted for 75.6 per cent of total farmer suicides. Small and marginal farmers accounted for about 72.4 per cent of total farmer suicides. After a farmer commits suicide, government quite often swings into action and provides hectic financial relief to the family of the deceased. This entails heavy pressure on state exchequer, on one hand and causes irreparable loss to the family and society, on the other (ADSI Report, 2014).

 

1.2 Early Warning Signal for Farmers (EWSF)

The main cause of farmer suicides was indebtedness. Hence, there is a need to keep a close watch on level and trends of indebtedness of farmers. According to latest All India Debt and Investment Survey 2013 (70th Round of NSSO) incidence of indebtedness among the cultivators was as high as 46 per cent with asset-debt ratio of 2.5. The incidence of indebtedness was alarming at 74 per cent in Telangana, Maharashtra (56 per cent) and Karnataka (55 per cent). Majority of farmers are neck-deep in debt. Once asset-debt balance is disturbed, mainly due to crop failure, farmers feel helpless and look for relief. In this backdrop, there is need for close watch at individual farmer level by evolving Early Warning Signal for Farmers (EWSF) as is prevailing for corporate borrowers. The EWSF can be constructed by various techniques. One such technique could be to request the commercial banks in India to regularly prepare a village-wise list of farmers who have availed large amount of loans in relation to their assets and earnings, on half-yearly basis.  The list prepared by the commercial banks should then be updated with data from regional rural banks, cooperative banks and micro-finance units. Presumably, after exhausting the credit from institutionalised sources like cooperative banks, regional rural banks, and commercial banks, farmers tend to augment resources from the money lender.  This village level list can be used to identify farmers who have large exposure to credit and are potential suicides of future. The block, district and state level banking committees should discuss such a list and finalise the list of vulnerable farmers under their jurisdiction.  The ‘red alert’ that the list creates should be shared with local administrative officials at block and village level, as well as the regional offices of the Reserve Bank of India and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).  As farmer suicides are a matter of grave concern for a fast developing country and a challenge to the well-planned existing financial infrastructure, there has to be some responsibility assigned to the officials of the concerned area where the suicides occur. Therefore, local revenue officials at the village and block level should be entrusted with the responsibility of making enquiry about the financial health of identified farmers based on EWSF and including private loans of the farmers’ family (newindianexpress).

 

2. OBJECTIVES:

Ř To analyze the trends and pattern of farmers’ suicide in India.

Ř To estimate the determinants of farmers’ suicide in India.

 

3. HYPOTHESIS:

Ř Farmers’ suicide significantly influenced by loan amount disbursed to agriculture sector, rainfall, number of KCC cards issued, irrigation level and number of farmers insured.

 

4. METHODOLOGY:

The present study made use of the secondary data from the National Crime Records Bureau Reports, NABARD annual reports and others. The present study considered period from 1995 to 2014 to analyse the trends in farmers’ suicide and 2014 to estimate regression model. The data collected for the research are analyzed with the help of simple statistical techniques such as Regression, AGR, CAGR, percentage and graphs to come to meaningful conclusions.

 

 

Where, FS= Number of Farmers’ suicide, Loan = amount disbursed to agriculture sector, R = Rainfall, KCC = KCC cards issued, I= irrigation level, FI= number of farmers insured.

 

5. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS:

India is an agrarian country with around 48.9% of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture. Nowadays the problem of farmers’ suicides is one of the vital concerns that need to be addressed by the Government. Considering the paramount importance of this issue, the NCRB, for the first time, has collected detailed data on farmers’ suicides in 2014. Farmers include those who own and work on field (viz. cultivators) as well as those who employ or hire workers for field work or farming activities. It excludes agricultural labourers. A total of 5,650 farmers have committed suicides during 2014, accounting for 4.3% of total suicides victims in the country. Bankruptcy or Indebtedness and Family Problems are major causes of suicides, accounting for 20.6% and 20.1% respectively of total farmers’ suicides during 2014. The other prominent causes of farmers’ suicides were Failure of Crop (16.8%), Illness (13.2%) and Alcoholic Addiction (4.9%) (ADSI Report, 2014).

 


 

Table: 1 Trends in suicide Reported under Farming and Agricultural Activity

Year

Males

Females

Persons

Male as % of total

AGR

1995

8295

2425

10720

77.37

-

1996

10897

2832

13729

79.37

28.069

1997

11229

2393

13622

82.43

-0.779

1998

12986

3029

16015

81.08

17.567

1999

13278

2804

16082

82.56

0.4184

2000

13501

3102

16603

81.31

3.2396

2001

13829

2586

16415

84.24

-1.132

2002

15308

2663

17971

85.18

9.4791

2003

14680

2463

17143

85.63

-4.607

2004

15929

2312

18241

87.32

6.4049

2005

14973

2158

17131

87.40

-6.085

2006

14664

2396

17060

85.95

-0.414

2007

14509

2123

16632

87.23

-2.509

2008

14145

2051

16196

87.33

-2.621

2009

14951

2417

17368

86.08

7.2364

2010

13592

2372

15964

85.14

-8.084

2011

12071

1956

14027

86.05

-12.13

2012

11951

1803

13754

86.89

-1.946

2013

10489

1283

11772

89.10

-14.41

2014

10889

1471

12360

88.09

4.9949

Source: Compiled from various ADSI reports


The above table 1 revealed the gender composition of Farm suicides, according to the data, the male farmers’ suicide higher than females. Considering the period 1995-2014 as a whole, about 85 per cent of all farm suicides were by male farmers. As farmers’ suicides were concentrated among males, the pattern of growth of male suicides determined the overall pattern of farm suicides. It reached a peak in 2004, when 15,929 male farmers committed suicide. The highest growth rate in farmers’ suicide recorded in the year of 1996. After global economic crisis (2008) farmers’ suicide started to decline, but in the year of 2014, because of severe drought again the farmers’ suicide has started to increase.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Table: 2 Land holding status of farmers who committed suicide

States

Marginal farmers

Small farmers

Medium Farmers

Large Farmers

Total

Andaman and Nicobar   Islands

7

1

0

0

8

Andhra Pradesh

64

48

47

1

160

Arunachal Pradesh

0

0

0

0

0

Assam

4

10

7

0

21

Bihar

0

0

0

0

0

Chhattisgarh

136

195

89

23

443

Goa

0

0

0

0

0

Gujarat

3

8

30

4

45

Haryana

0

2

10

2

14

Himachal Pradesh

14

18

0

0

32

Jammu and Kashmir

11

0

1

0

12

Jharkhand

0

0

0

0

0

Karnataka

51

149

117

4

321

Kerala

44

43

18

2

107

Madhya Pradesh

403

267

150

6

826

Maharashtra

627

1335

544

62

2568

Manipur

0

0

0

0

0

Meghalaya

0

0

0

0

0

Mizoram

0

0

0

0

0

Nagaland

0

0

0

0

0

Odisha

0

5

0

0

5

Punjab

3

14

7

0

24

Rajasthan

0

0

0

0

0

Sikkim

22

0

13

0

35

Tamil Nadu

48

17

3

0

68

Telangana

129

366

377

26

898

Tripura

0

0

0

0

0

Uttar Pradesh

13

38

11

1

63

Uttarakhand

0

0

0

0

0

West Bengal

0

0

0

0

0

India

1579

2516

1424

131

5650

Source: ADSI report 2014

 

 


Land holding status of farmers who committed suicide found from the above table 2. It shows that 44.5% and 27.9% of victims were small farmers and marginal farmers respectively, they together accounted for 72.4% (4,095 out of 5,650) total farmer suicides. 53.1% and 14.5% of small farmers who committed suicides were reported in Maharashtra (1,135 out of 2,516) and Telangana (366 out of 2,516) respectively during 2014. Among marginal farmers, 39.7% and 25.5% respectively of farmers’ suicides were reported in Maharashtra (627 out of 1,579) and Madhya Pradesh (403 out of 1,579). However, 47.3% of well off farmers (large farmers) who have committed suicides were also reported in Maharashtra during 2014.  This is because of indebtedness, uncertainty of monsoon, non-availability of credit, increasing prices of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers.

 


Table: 3 Results of Determinants of Farmers’ suicide in India

 

 

 


The regression results of the determinants of farmers suicide for the period of 2014 has reported in the above table 3. The results include loan amount disbursed to agriculture, rainfall, number of KCC cards issued, irrigation and number of farmers insured as the independent variables. Irrigation and number of farmers insured have significantly influenced the farmers’ suicide. The results reveal that, farmers’ suicide declines as the increase in rainfall, KCC cards issued and irrigation level. The R squared value is 0.77, which means that 77% of farmers’ suicide explained by the above said independent variables. Hence the study hypothesis has been accepted.

 

6. CONCLUSION AND POLICY SUGGESTIONS:

The overall conclusion emerging from the analysis of the determinants of farmers’ suicide in India is that irrigation level and numbers of farmers insured have significantly explained the farmers’ suicide. As the regression results revealed the farmers’ suicide declines as the increase in rainfall, KCC cards issued and irrigation level. Further, the study revealed that 44.5% and 27.9% of victims were small farmers and marginal farmers respectively, they together accounted for 72.4% total farmer suicides and Maharashtra ranked first in the farmers’ suicide by contributing around 50% of farmers’ suicide to the overall farmers’ suicide. With this few remarks this study suggests that while framing the policies, policy makers should give importance to uplift the small and marginal farmers.

Further, there is a need for meaningful crop insurance policies and small farmers should be encouraged to develop alternative sources of income and the government should take up the responsibility for providing training to the farmers to acquire new skills. The results suggest that the promotion of irrigation projects and the issuance of KCCs are important keys in the battle against agrarian distress. The study findings also highlight the relative importance of rainfall shocks which could be tackled by the introduction of, rainfall-based crop insurance.

 

7. REFERENCES:

1.     ADSI Report (Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India - National Crime Records Bureau) Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 2014.

2.     Deshpande R. S (2002), “Suicide by Farmers in Karnataka: Agrarian Distress and Possible Alleviatory Steps”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 37, pp. 2601-2610.

3.     Hanumanthappa K (2015), “Farmers Indebtedness and Suicides in Karnataka”,International Journal of Retailing and Rural Business Perspectives, vol.4, pp 1400-1404.

4.     Muzaffar Assadi(2006), “Agrarian Crisis and Farmers’ Suicide in India: Dimension, Nature and Response of the State in Karnataka”, The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Vol. 49, pp-799-820.

5.     Nagaraj K,  Sainath P, Rukmani R, and Gopinath R, “Farmers’ Suicides in India: Magnitudes, Trends, and Spatial Patterns, 1997–2012”, Review of Agrarian Studies, pp-53-83.

6.     Naveen Kumar. C(2013), “Farmer Suicide’s in Karnataka with Globalization Period”, International Journal of Agriculture and Food Science Technology, Volume 4, pp. 887-892.

7.     Purnanand Nagappa Sangalad and Malakajappa Gyanappa Huddar(2011), “Socio-Economic Conditions of Farmers’ of Bagalkot District and their Impact on Suicides”, Journal of Experimental Sciences, pp 01-03.

8.     Purnanand Nagappa Sangalad and Malakajappa Gyanappa Huddar(2011), “Agrarian Distress and Farmers’ Suicides in Karnataka: Strategy for Prevention”, International Multidisciplinary Research Journal, pp 01-05.

9.     Srijit Mishra(2014), “ Farmers’ Suicides in India, 1995-2012: Measurement and interpretation”,  Asia Research Centre Working Paper.

10.   Sukhpal Singh(2006), “ Credit, Indebtedness and Farmer Suicides in Punjab: Some Missing Links”  Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 41, pp. 3330-3331.

11.   http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Take-Steps-to-Prevent-Farmer Suicides/2015/08/12/article2969370.ece

 

 

Received on 20.04.2016

Modified on 24.04.2016

Accepted on 28.06.2016

© A&V Publications all right reserved

Research J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 7(3): July - September, 2016, 193-197.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2016.00031.0