Nikita Sattiraju writes: Farmer suicides in India have largely been attributed to debt, drought, crop failure or poor returns. However, farmers have been taking the drastic step regardless of a good rainfall year or bad, a good price year or a disappointing one. Why? Questions arise on the exact nature and reasons behind the deepening problem.
Kirankumar Vissa writes; Everyone in the media has been talking about the slew of pro-farmer measures included in Budget 2017, how it is a Budget for the ‘have nots’ and one that will give a big fillip to agriculture. It is time to call this Budget what it is–a big prank on India’s farming community.
Live Mint reports: Agriculture is likely to be the worst affected by the note ban, because 1) The policy coincided with harvest of kharif crops, and farmers are facing difficulty selling it. 2) Lack of cash must have posed difficulty in sowing of rabi crops. 3) Unlike other sectors, farm output is perishable in nature.
Milind Murugkar writes: ‘Why doesn’t the informal sector, supposedly badly hit by demonetisation, protest or scream in pain?’. Defenders of demonetisation often pose this question. If you want an answer to the question, please listen to Sachin Jadhav. His story takes us through the long chain of economic loss and suffering of the rural population.
Samar writes: Indebtedness was behind 38.7% of farmer suicides in 2015; the corresponding figure for the same head in overall suicides in India is a mere 3.3%. Nearly 80% of those who killed themselves because of indebtedness had taken loans from “Financial Institutions like Bank/Registered Micro Financial Institutions”, and a mere 302 from “Money Lenders”.
“Producing qualities that may give excellent results in the laboratory may be advantageous for some, but have ruinous effects for others. And the principle of caution is not enough, as very often it is limited to not allowing something to be done, whereas there is a need to act in a balanced and honest way.”
Gopi Sankarasubramani writes: The issue at hand is the impending approval of GM mustard in India. GMOs introduce irreversible, long term changes in the ecosystem that cannot be contained – any farm will be contaminated, because the farm next door has GMOs. With it, we risk permanently losing our 10,000 year-old inheritance of sustainable agriculture.
Whitney Webb reports: Farmers in India’s poorest region are recording record rice yields by growing organically, debunking once and for all the myth that GMOs are necessary to feed the world’s growing population… In Bihar, Sumant Kumar and his family produced an astounding 22.4 tons of rice on only one hectare of land, in 2013.
Suraj Kumar Thube writes: Much of the naturalisation of the suicides has also got to do with the urban perception of rural areas and rural lifestyles. The oriental imagination still does not cease to colonise our minds in terms of perceiving the rural as a stagnant and unchanging space characterised by divisive notions of caste-consciousness.
Bjorn Lomborg, long known as a ‘contrarian’ environmentalist, recently triggered a heated media debate when he claimed that organic farming cannot provide food security for the world, and even asserted that it is bad for the environment. Here we present Lomborg’s original column in USA Today and a selection of voices that counter his view.
Indira Khurana writes: A whopping 25 per cent of India’s total land (329 mn ha) is undergoing desertification while 32 per cent (105 mn ha) is facing degradation that has reduced productivity, critically affecting livelihoods and food security of millions across the country. Combating desertification brings together three interdependent natural resources: Land, water and biodiversity.
C.P. Chandrasekhar writes: Even the kind of economic growth that liberalisation actually delivered is proving unsustainable. So, the belief that growth would remain high for years to come, delivering benefits even to those at the bottom of the income pyramid and those steeped in poverty and deprivation, has now revealed itself to be a myth.
Down to Earth reports: Severe dry spells in Indian forests have hit the livelihood of more than 100 million people. But India simply does not acknowledge this drought. There’s no official nomenclature for forest droughts, nor any official plan to deal with them. So, while a farmer gets compensation for failed crops, forest-dwellers receive nothing.
From Ruralindiaonline.org: Rampant deforestation, extensive damming of the rivers, huge diversions of water for industrial projects and even elite resorts can be seen across the state. All these underlie Maharashtra’s terrible water crisis. They won’t get washed away by the monsoon, even if the media coverage of it dries up with onset of the rains.
In this video, which has since gone viral, Binay Kumar, a corporate employee turned farmer addresses an audience in Bangalore, offering a sharp take on India’s rampant urbanization, catastrophic development model, the ongoing agrarian crisis and the rural-urban divide that feeds it. He states the obvious, but bitter truth: “Everybody wants to eat, but nobody wants to grow.”
In 2008, GRAIN exposed how a new wave of land grabbing was sweeping the planet in the name of addressing the global food and financial crises. Their new report shows that the global farmland grab is far from over. Rather, it’s in many ways deepening, expanding to new frontiers and intensifying conflict around the world.
Osama Manzar writes: As part of a digital literacy project in Maharashtra, rural students identified the following major consequences of drought— lack of water for basic needs, irregular supply of drinking water by government authorities, supply of unhygienic water, shortage of fodder for cattle, unemployment, health issues and lack of awareness about water conservation schemes.
Colin Todhunter writes: With Modi now at the helm, the government is doing the bidding of global biotech companies and is currently trying to push through herbicide-tolerant GM mustard based on fraudulent tests and ‘regulatory delinquency‘, which will not only open the door to GM crops but will boost the sales of Bayer’s glufinosate herbicide.
Sayantan Bera reports: The sorry state of India’s farm movement is inextricably linked to the non-viability of farming now, said Vijay Jawandhia, a farmer leader from Wardha in Maharashtra. “Land holdings have become smaller and farmers everywhere are struggling to run a family and survive. Where is the time or resource to invest in a movement?”
In an effort to understand the trends of farmer suicides, this article uses data from the NCRB to estimate the suicide mortality rate of farmers and non-farmers for India. The methodology corrects for an error present in previous studies and alters some commonly held views about the level and trend of farmer suicides in India.