Farmer suicide


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: agrarian distress

farmer suicideContext

  • An agricultural labourer died by suicide every 2 hours in 2021: NCRB
  • The national catastrophe of farmer suicide since the 1990s, often by drinking pesticides is attributed to their inability to repay loans mostly taken from landlords and banks.

NCRB Stats on Farmers Suicide

  • Some 5,563 agricultural labourers died by suicide in 2021, according to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The number of suicides increased by nine per cent from 2020 and by around 29 per cent from 2019.

Causes of Farmers Suicide

  • Non sustainable cropping: Most of the suicides have occurred in areas of cash crops like cotton and sugarcane, which is high input, high output gambling, not based on the principle of sustained and resilient high yield.
  • Multiple causes: There is no consensus on what the main causes might be but studies show farmer suicide victims are motivated by more than one cause however the primer reasons being the inability to repay loans.
  • Combined causes: Major causes reportedly are bankruptcy/indebtedness, problems in the families, crop failure, illness and alcohol/substance abuse.

farmer suicideFaulty measures

  • Low penetration of irrigation: Irrigation reaches less than half of India’s overall farmland, a picture that has not changed much over the past decade, and more than 60% of our farmers are susceptible to rainfall anomalies.
  • Dry land farming: Rain-fed farming yields are typically less than half those of irrigated farmland.
  • High input cost: Though India has caught up with global levels of fertilizer use, this is neither efficient nor environmentally sustainable. Both add to the cost of cultivation.
  • Slow R&D: Research on high-yielding crops has plateaued after an initial burst during the Green Revolution and farmers have to resort to patented seeds to draw more out of their scanty acres.

farmer suicide7R’ model utility

It looks at the prevention of farmer suicide

  • Remunerative agriculture,
  • Resilience building,
  • Rational expenditure,
  • Reassurance through connectivity,
  • Righteous conduct,
  • Religious support and
  • Responsible reporting

farmer suicideWay Forward

  • Information technology promises to improve weather forecasting, crop identification as well as damage control, soil health monitoring, and mapping of available water resources.
  • Improvements in marketing and logistics can significantly raise the share that cultivators get of the money people pay for their food.
  • The govt. is using technology to connect farmers to a nationwide e-market, but the states need to amend their antiquated farm produce marketing laws that have squeezed farmers’ earnings.
  • An old problem of price signals failing to adjust demand and supply may also need fixing.
  • For agricultural incomes to rise, reforms, rather than cash transfers, loan waivers and the like, are the way ahead.


  • Along with subsidies, increased farm profits, the focus should also be on resilience building and problem-solving skills of farming families.
  • In suicide-prone states, agricultural institutes and scientists should start distributing seeds of resilience, tolerance and contentment among farmers, suggested researchers.

Mains question

Q. Despite agricultural growth Indian farmers are committing suicides Discuss the causes and give dynamic way forward to address the issue.


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