Farmers' organisations allege government is taking no action

A fact-finding team representing a collective of 40 farmers' organisations, Raitu Swarajya Vedika, has found an alarming rise in the number of suicides by farmers — as many as 90 in the last month alone — in Adilabad, Khammam, Karimnagar, Medak, Mahbubnagar and Anantapur districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Releasing a report and data collected from these districts from various sources, including media reports, the Vedika representatives expressed surprise that though there were clear indicators for the past two months of the emerging situation, the government had not taken action to support the farmers or mitigate their suffering.

For instance, the cotton-sowing area in the State increased to 47 lakh acres covering 25 per cent of the total area. So a distressful situation for cotton farmers was to be expected, but the government did not take any measure to address the situation, G.V. Ramanjaneyulu of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Kiran Kumar Vissa, convenor of the Vedika, said. Others memebers of the Vedika are: S. Jeevan Kumar, K. Sajaya, D. Narasimha Reddy, Asha and Bharath.

The glaring aspect found by the team was the sense of hopelessness displayed by the farmers who said they had no faith in the government. The team found that there was a serious crop failure, predominantly of cotton, in several districts, and of maize and paddy in a few places, and groundnut in Anantapur. In Utnoor in Adilabad district, 5 acres of cotton yielded less than one quintal in the first harvest and the farmer landed a loss of Rs.50,000. Most of the suicides happened in rain-fed areas, where high-input commercial crops were grown.

The farmers' collective said the families of the farmers were already in debt before the season and were pushed into further debt of over Rs.1 lakh. Most of the loans were from informal sources and not from banks, leading to farmers facing more harassment besides paying high interest rates. Many farmers had taken land on lease, but did not have any loan eligibility cards. The collective has demanded a disaster package for all the farmers who have suffered crop failure, Rs.10,000 per acre as compensation.