Farmers' suicides

Farmers' suicides


• Suicide by self-employed persons in agriculture as a percentage of total suicides at the national level stood at 15.6% in 1996, 16.3% in 2002, 14.4% in 2006, 13.7% in 2009, 11.9% in 2010, 10.3% in 2011, 11.4% in 2012 and 8.73% in 2013. Suicides committed in the farming sector (by farmers plus agricultural labourers) as a proportion of total suicides in India was 9.4 percent in 2014 and 9.43 percent in 2015 #

• The total number of suicides committed by self-employed persons in agriculture in India was 13729 in 1996, 17971 in 2002, 17060 in 2006, 17368 in 2009, 15964 in 2010, 14027 in 2011, 13754 in 2012 and 11772 in 2013. The total number of suicides in the farming sector (committed by farmers plus agricultural labourers) was 12,360 in 2014 and 12,602 in 2015 # 

• Due to drop in world market prices for cash-crops (such as coffee, pepper, vanilla) during late 1990s, failure of ginger cultivation in neighbouring Kodagu (formerly Coorg) district and ecological crisis owing to overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides so as to combat productivity failure, many farmers and neo-farmers were left with heavy debts. When, eventually the recovery notices of the banks arrived, hundreds of farmers, especially marginal landholders with up to two acres of land, drank pesticides and killed themselves @

• In Wayanad, since suicide statistics are directly linked to the payment of compensation through the Revenue Department, the number of farmers’ suicides stagnated during the years 2006 to 2008. ‘Safe Farmers Campaign’ (SFC), a consortium of eight, mostly Catholic, NGOs (including Shreyas), in 2007 began a large-scale investigation into farmers’ suicides that ran parallel to the state’s efforts of enumeration and classification. Taking police reports of suicides as a starting point and following up all cases from 2000 to March 2008 they have come up with a total number of 1,690 farmers’ suicides (Kerala Social Service Forum 2009). That is nearly four times the figure of 435 officially recognised farmers’ suicides. The latter number is also the number of beneficiaries of the Chief Minister’s (CM) relief fund @   

• During the ten-year period spanning 1997 to 2006 as many as 1,66,304 farmers committed suicide in India*

• Farm suicides have increased at annual compound growth rate of around 2.5 per cent per annum over the period 1997-2006*

• Farmers, who committed suicides, were growing cash crops in dry regions such as: cotton (particularly in Maharashtra), sunflower, groundnut, and sugarcane (especially in Karnataka) **

• Farm suicides took place in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh including Chhattisgarh*

• Poor health conditions, family disputes over property, domestic problems, and heavy social burden of marrying daughters coupled with alcoholism have pushed farmers towards committing suicides**


# National Crime Records Bureau, 

@ Farmers' suicidesand the state in India: Conceptual and ethnographic notes from Wayanad,Kerala by Daniel Münster, Contributions to Indian Sociology 2012 46: 181,

* Nagaraj, K (2008): Farmers’ Suicides in India, Magnitudes, Trends and Spatial Patterns, Macroscan, 

** Hebber, Dr. Ritambhara (2007): ‘Human Security and the Case of Farmers’ Suicides in India: An Exploration’, Centre for Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, TISS, Paper presented in a panel on Rethinking Development in a Conference on ‘Mainstreaming Human Security- an Asian Perspective’ (October 3-4, 2007) organised by Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok


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