This refers to the article “Some States fight the trend but …” (Dec. 5), where the debate on continuing farmer suicides has been kept alive and attention repeatedly drawn to continuing indifference to the issue by the powers-that-be. The onset of neo-liberalism has brought a paradigm shift in the credit policy approach of banks towards class banking from mass banking. As for cooperative institutions, the political usurping of the administration has ensured the negation of facilities that are due to farmers. It is in this context that the seven prescriptions proposed by economist V.K. Ramachandran (“Inequality exists because of failure to resolve agrarian crisis,” Dec. 3), at the V.P. Chintan Memorial lecture in Chennai, acquire significance.
P. Sainath has once again proved his social commitment. The central and State governments must strengthen farmer-welfare schemes, giving agriculturists as much importance as corporates. With land holdings dwindling, respect and support, financially and morally, should be accorded to these real entrepreneurs (farmers) who face many an uncertainty in this very important profession.
Alex Andrews George,
In an agrarian country like India, farmer suicides are of grave concern. In so-called shining India, on an average, 47 farmers have been committing suicide every day for the past 16 years. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the worst-hit. It is a fact that an automobile loan for a Mercedes from a government owned bank gets a six per cent interest rate, while the same loan, for a tractor, gets 15 per cent. Public money is being spent on bailout packages to big industries and on lavish ceremonies. The farmer, who needs relief, has been forgotten.
An inclusive farm administration, efficient priority based lending from banks, awareness on better season-based crop cultivation, multiple cropping and less dependence on single crop cultivation are vital factors that will help reduce farming distress.
The article proves that it is planned agricultural policy that can salvage the farming community, and not short-cuts like FDI in retail, which will yield only partial benefits. It is shocking to note that “suicides among cash crop farmers are far higher than those amongst food crop growers.” This proves what commercialisation of agriculture has been doing to the poor farmer. In this era of large-scale migration to urban centres, what are needed are not agreements that help MNCs and free trade agreements that chip away at the vitality of domestic agriculture, but objective policies like grain procurement through panchayats and encouragement of traditional cropping patterns .
Our economy is largely agricultural and not industrial. The condition of the farmer is deplorable and debt is to blame. It is the reason why farmers give up their important profession and move to unfamiliar areas. The agricultural sector needs to be revisited with fresh and new thinking.