Suicide by farmers rose 42% between 2014 and 2015

By SM.02 Jan, 2017


New Delhi: A widespread drought and rising indebtedness led to 12,602 suicides by farmers and agricultural labourers in 2015, shows data released by the National Crime Records Bureau.

According to the report ‘Accidental deaths and suicides in India 2015’, the total number of suicides relating to the farm sector is 2% higher than the 12,360 recorded in 2014.

Both 2014 and 2015 were drought years, spiking farm distress across several states, and the data shows that seven states accounted for 87.5% of the suicides in the farming sector in 2015.

Maharashtra (with 4,291 suicides) fared the worst, the data shows, followed by Karnataka (1,569), Telangana (1,400), Madhya Pradesh (1,290), Chhattisgarh (954), Andhra Pradesh (916) and Tamil Nadu (606).

Of the total 12,602 suicides in 2015 in the farm sector, 8,007 were farmers while 4,595 were agricultural labourers. In 2014, the corresponding numbers were 5,650 farmers and 6,710 agricultural labourers, meaning, suicides by cultivators rose 42% between 2014 and 2015 while that of farm hands fell 31.5%.

The report defines farmers as those who farm their own or leased land. Agricultural labourers are those whose primary source of income comes from working as farm hands.

An analysis of causes of suicides in the report shows that bankruptcy, indebtedness and farming-related issues were the leading causes of suicides by farmers, accounting for 38.7% (3,097 out of 8,007) deaths. Going by the landholding status, the data shows that nearly 73% of farmers who committed suicide were small and marginal cultivators owning less than 2 hectares of land.

Highly erratic and inadequate monsoon (in 2014 and 2015) aggravated “the problems for persons engaged in the farming sector,” the report said, adding, “manifestations of these in extreme situations can be seen in the form of farmers’ suicides.”