Worsening agrarian crisis needs Centre's attention

Worsening agrarian crisis needs Centre

The Centre for Study of Developing Societies based in Delhi, in its survey, had found that given an option to exit, majority of farmers in the country...

The Centre for Study of Developing Societies based in Delhi, in its survey, had found that given an option to exit, majority of farmers in the country would prefer to take up some other work.

Poor income, bleak future and stress are the main reasons why they want to give up farming. Around 18 per cent of respondents surveyed said it was because of family pressure that they were continuing with farming. The study report was titled 'State of Indian Farmers'.

The survey of 5,000 farm households across 18 States says that 76 per cent farmers would prefer to do some wok other than farming. Sixty-one per cent of these farmers would prefer to be employed in cities because of better education, health and employment avenues there.

A high percentage of farmers complained of repeated losses. Most of the respondents, as many as 70 per cent, said unseasonal rains, drought, floods and pest attack destroyed crops.

The report clearly points out that most of the benefits announced by the government schemes and policies are being mostly given to big farmers having landholding of 10 acres and above.

Only 10 per cent of the poor and small farmers with an average land holding of 1-4 acres have benefited from government schemes and subsidies. In addition, there is another complaint heard from the farmers: 74 per cent of them do not get any farming-related information from officials of the Agriculture Department.

As for suicides, most of the farmers are aware of the fact that farmers regularly commit suicides in their area. Such cases are reported more from the Central India.

Domestic problems are the most important reason for suicides followed by credit and loan problems. Crop failure falls 3rd in the category. But it should not be forgotten that domestic problems only increase when there is a crop failure and it leads to loan repayment crisis etc.

The government must not forget that thousands of Indian farmers who commit suicides every year like their other counterparts borrow money from private lenders and banks.

This subjects them to further poverty and more crisis. Maharashtra, for example, suffers from severe droughts and frequently at that, sees a higher number of suicides - more than 20,000 have committed suicides since 2001.

Ironically, farmers continue to die trying to feed the country and the country does not care about it. Media gets tired of such suicides and it is confined to the local pages. As for electronic media, there is little patience or time for farmers.

After all, a farmer does not merit any TRP ratings and those unfit for boost TRP ratings have no place in the news. Secondly, in the present-day scenario where the media is bitterly divided politically with the heavyweights supporting the party in power at the Centre, there is little hope of a common man's plight even getting registered in our minds.

It depends on the commitment of both the Centre and the State governments to improve the lot of farmers.

Policies alone do not help him. Unless this country genuinely loves its farmers, there is no hope that they could be held out from crisis.

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