It is hard to write about farmers suicides but the gravity of the situation in India calls for attention to this issue. Farmer have a very unique role in the economy, especially for a country such as India which is predominantly an agrarian economy. I read about farmer suicides in India for the first time when i took a class in Agricultural Economics while studying for my Masters. The latest report (2015) on Accidental Deaths in India (ADSI) reports the farmer suicides at 12602 deaths which would mean a farmer commits suicide every hour.
The National Crime Records Bureau provides data for ADSI and classifies farmer suicides under the death by professions. If we add all the deaths from suicides by farmers since 2001 to 2015 we observe the number of deaths at 234657, which would mean every hour two farmers have committed suicide.
Maharashtra has reported the highest number of farmer suicide in India followed by Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh. The number of suicide have have been high in Maharashtra for over a decade now. Close to 68% of the farmer suicides in India are in these four states. About 90% of the farmer suicides in 2015 came from only 8 states. Which means that the issue is not widespread in India but concentrated over a small number of states. Identifying the issue is the first step, doing something about it is the next.
The top five causes of farmer suicide in India are Bankruptcy, family problems, illness, farming related issues and other causes. Bankruptcy alone has led to 26% of all farmer suicides.
Ample research has been undertaken by economist and sociologist to understand the causes of farmer suicides in India. However, little seems to have translated into policy making. To make a meaningful impact what country needs is more than an effective policy. Maharashtra where the farmer suicides has been alarmingly high is a big policy failure and the Government of India needs to fix this one state at a time.
Code and Data: Coming soon!!!