Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Planning Board Vice-Chairman Prabhat Patnaik on Tuesday said that Kerala was probably the only State which could arrest farmers’ suicides.

Delivering the keynote address at a seminar on ‘Agrarian crisis in Kerala’ organised by the YMCA here, Prof. Patnaik said the constitution of the Agricultural Debt Relief Commission and the interventions by it were the major factors that helped the State to arrest the trend. “It is possible that the suicides may revive if the commission’s activities are stopped or if the State is not able to allocate adequate funds for it.”

He said the State adopted a multi-pronged strategy to address the agrarian crisis and ensuring remunerative price for food crops was a major component of it. Prof. Patnaik said suicide rate was higher among farmers in the cash crop sector than those in the food crops. The reason was that cash crop cultivation was highly capital intensive and severely vulnerable to the fluctuations in the international market. However, the government was unable to make much effective interventions to help out the cash crop farmers as most of their problems were linked to the policies of the Central government.

He argued that there was a basic difference in the approaches of the Central and State governments towards the problems in the farm sector. “The Centre perceives the problem essentially to be an agricultural crisis restricting it to issues related to production and productivity. On the other side, the State government treats this as an agrarian crisis which has its implications on the social relations and affects the peasantry and agricultural workers.”