Nagesh Prabhu

Major parties in Karnataka likely to address the problem in their manifestos

318 farmers in the State committed suicide in 2008-09

Suicides reported almost daily from across the State

BANGALORE: With 318 farmers committing suicide this financial year (2008-09) in Karnataka, political parties are likely to frame their poll strategies with a focus on the plethora of problems haunting the agricultural sector if they wish to win the rural vote in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

This is not only an issue that is likely to be addressed in the election manifestos of the major political parties such as the Congress, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party; but will also be the poll plank of the smaller parties, like the two Left parties, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Suicide cases are being reported almost every day from across the State. Despite the State government’s promises for the agricultural sector, the sector recorded a negative growth rate of 5.7 per cent in 2008-09 in Karnataka’s GDP against the national average growth of 2.6 per cent.

Hassan tops in suicides

The highest number of suicide cases has been reported from Hassan (47), which was represented by the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, in the 14th Lok Sabha. A large tract of potato crop was destroyed in the district because of incessant rains during the kharif season.

The State’s agricultural sector has been facing numerous problems. Debt has been the major factor leading to suicide by farmers.

Experts said the serious fluctuations in the south-west monsoon and excess rains in major parts of State causing flash floods in August-September adversely affected the kharif and rabi crops in 2008-09. Fertilizer shortage, fluctuations in the prices of crops, delay in procurement of produce, particularly surgarcane, were the other factors that led to farmers’ suicides.

Further, farmers had sown on 66 lakh hectares of land as against the target of 74.4 lakh hectares during the last kharif season. Undue pressure by moneylenders and recovery agents of banks pushed the farmers to take the extreme step.

This fiscal, Gulbarga district recorded 35 cases of suicide followed by Chikmagalur – 29, Bidar - 28, Belgaum – 20, Chitradurga – 18, Bijapur – 15, Mandya – 14, Shimoga – 13, Tumkur, Davangere, and Bagalkote – 12 each, Dharwad - 9, Mysore and Gadag– 8, Uttara Kannada and Koppal – 6 each, Bellary – 5, Haveri, Kodagu, Ramangara, and Raichur – 4 each, Dakshina Kannada – 3, Kolar and Bangalore Rural – 1.

No suicides have been reported from Bangalore Urban, Chamarajangar and Udupi districts.