Farmers suicide

Farmers suicide in Uttarakhand, the “Land of Gods”

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Dr. Ganesh Upadhaya, filed the petition in Uttarakhand High Court for redressing the grievances of agrarian community highlighting the various incidents of suicide committed by farmers in the state of Uttarakhand. The averments made under the petition was “abject poverty, level of in-debt and high statistics of crop failure.  Four farmers in the State of Uttarakhand have committed suicide (farmers suicide). After coming into the existence of State of Uttarakhand, more than 2.26 lakh families of farmers migrated from the state.”

According to the data compiled by the Akhil Bhartiya Kisaan Mahasabha, in 2016-17, 80% of total area for cultivation is either barren or sold for commercialization or industrialization or privatization and rest 20% includes agricultural land existing in hilly areas. The stats of the state also indicates that 90% of total population of state depends upon agriculture for their livelihood.

Through the judgement delivered on April 26, 2018, court observed that farmers have a right to live with dignity and since farmers are not able to repay the bank loans and hence taking the advantage of this, local money lenders lend money at an exorbitant rate of interest.

Hence, several directions are being passed by the court:

  •  State of Uttarakhand is directed to constitute the state farmers commission, through chief secretary, according to section 3 of the Uttarakhand State Farmers Commission Act, also to appoint president and member within three months.
  •  The respondent was directed to implement the broader recommendation made by National Commission on Farmers (NFC) for considering the minimum support price for agriculture produce which should be at least three times above the average cost of production including cost of rent, interest on owned land, capital, labour hired, cost of other inputs and infrastructure and physical labour.
  • Scheme for payment of compensation or family pension given to family members of farmer committing suicide should be directed.
  • Insurance scheme should be formulated in case of any weather calamity and National Insurance Companies should include such insurance in consultation with stakeholders.
  • RBI was advised to start programs and scheme in consultation with banks, state government and stakeholders to state the manner of recovering loans and waiving off, in articular conditions, of farmers.
  • State Government was directed to start a scheme for waiving off the loans, up to Rs.50,000/-, or to permit the recovery of loans in installments by reducing rate of interest.
  • State government was directed to provide proper enforcement of Warehousing (Development and Regulation) Act, 2007 for enabling the farmers to store the adequate amount of produce and prevent them from insufficient selling.
  • Under the technological advancement, court directed the Department of technology and private players to develop an app for up-to-date Khasra-wise data and to have the status of crops grown in state with particular details.
  • Central government and state government was suggested to provide proper legislation for the minimum support price of produce by farmers.

The court further elaborating ‘agriculture produce’ stated that all produce and commodities, whether processed or unprocessed of agriculture, horticulture, apiculture, sericulture, livestock and products of livestock, fleeces (raw wool) and skins of animal, forest produce and fisheries are included for the purpose of determining three times above the average cost of production.

Court further held:

The farmers are debt-ridden. They are not in a position to repay the debts due to ever decreasing prices of their produce. The worst affected are small and marginal farmers. Sometimes, they take recourse to extreme measures such as suicide etc. It is expected from the State to provide a mechanism to reduce their burden by creating a corpus to waive off their loans at least to the extent of rupees 50,000. Most of the agricultural land in the State of Uttarakhand is rain-fed. Whenever there is scarcity of rain, the crops fail. The State is required to formulate a Scheme providing insurance cover to their crops in consultation with the National Insurance Companies at minimal premium”

do read: Agriculture crises in India: an overview

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