Agri families borrow more, eat less to cope with kin's suicide: study -Sayantan Bera
* Average income of farm suicide families was just Rs.3,523 per month in 2016-17, below Rs.4,561 estimated by NSSO: study
* The study found that 92% of farm suicide families were not enrolled under the centre’s flagship crop insurance scheme
NEW DELHI: Agricultural households are trying to cope with the suicide of an earning member of the family by borrowing more, skimping on food and even taking recourse to bonded labour, a new study has found. Commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the report Agrarian Crisis and Farmers’ Suicides: An Empirical Study of Endemic State is based on a 2017-18 primary survey of 200 families affected by farm suicides.
Spread across four states—Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana—that accounted for the maximum number of suicides, the study was conducted by the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR), Hyderabad, and submitted to the NHRC in March.
Major coping strategies adopted by such families were informal borrowing (27% households), formal loans (21%), reducing consumption of food items like milk and eggs (13%), sale of assets (8%) and bonded labour (5.4%). A sordid observation was “the traditional way of bonded labour observed in Rewa district (Madhya Pradesh), where creditors have been taking the children of the debtor families mostly by paying 4 to 5 bags of wheat or rice to the family".
Against the ambitious central target of doubling farm income by 2022, the survey shows the average income of farm suicide families was just Rs.3,523 per month in 2016-17, even below the Rs.4,561 estimated by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) in 2012-13 for the smallest category of land holders.
The study found that 92% of farm suicide families were not enrolled under the centre’s flagship crop insurance scheme, and faced multiple economic shocks during a three-year period preceding the survey. On an average, they faced more than three shocks ranging from the death of an earning member to output price fluctuations and crop damage due to drought, floods and pest attacks. Most were heavily indebted with informal loans— Rs.4.28 lakh in Karnataka to Rs.3 lakh in Telangana. Most families took loans to meet agricultural costs (32%) and consumption needs (18%), expenses for social and religious purposes (15%), and towards house construction and marriage (13%).
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Livemint.com, 21 August, 2019, https://www.livemint.com/news/india/agri-families-borrow-more-eat-less-to-cope-with-kin-s-suicide-study-1566408117216.html