Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

Farmer suicide


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NCRB

Mains level: Farmers suicides in India

The number of agricultural labourers who died by suicide in 2020 was 18% higher than the previous year, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.

Farmers suicide in 2020

  • In 2020, 5,098 of these agricultural labourers died by suicide, an 18% rise from the 4,324 who died last year.
  • Overall, 10,677 people engaged in the farm sector died by suicide in 2020, slightly higher than the 10,281 who died in 2019.
  • They made up 7% of all suicides in the country.
  • Most of these deaths were among those whose primary work and main source of income comes from labour activities in agriculture or horticulture.
  • However, among farmers who cultivate their own land, with or without the help of other workers, the number of suicides dropped 3.7% from 5,129 to 4,940.
  • Among tenant farmers who cultivate leased land, there was a 23% drop in suicides from 828 to 639.

State-wise data

  • The worst among States continues to be Maharashtra, with 4,006 suicides in the farm sector, including a 15% increase in farm worker suicides.
  • Other States with a poor record include Karnataka (2016), Andhra Pradesh (889) and Madhya Pradesh (735).
  • Tamil Nadu also bucked the national trend; although the total number of farm suicides in the State was slightly higher.

Why more suicides despite a boom?

  • The farm sector was one of the few bright spots in the Indian economy since a year.
  • It recorded growth on the back of a healthy monsoon and the continuation of agricultural activities during a lockdown that crippled other sectors.
  • Hence, suicides among landowning farmers dropped slightly during the pandemic year.
  • Landless agricultural labourers who did not benefit from income support schemes such as PM Kisan may have faced higher levels of distress during the pandemic.

General causes of farmers suicides in India

Suicide victims are motivated by more than one cause however the primer reason is the inability to repay loans.

  • Debt trap: Major causes reportedly are bankruptcy/indebtedness, problems in the families, crop failure, illness and alcohol/substance abuse.
  • Lack of credit: Low access to credit, irrigation and technology worsens their ability to make a comfortable living.
  • Responsibility burden: In other words, debt to stress and family responsibilities as reasons were significantly higher than fertilizers and crop failure.
  • Disguised unemployment: This remains high. Fragmentation of land holdings has left far too many farmers with farms that are too small to be remunerative.
  • Mental health: One of the major causes behind suicidal intent is depression. Farmers are often subjected to fear of boycott due to societal pressures.


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Back2Basics: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

  • The NCRB is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • It was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
  • It was set up based on the recommendation of the Task force, 1985 and National Police Commission, 197.
  • It merged the Directorate of Coordination and Police Computer (DCPC), Inter State Criminals Data Branch of CBI and Central Finger Print Bureau of CBI.

Also read:

[Burning Issue] Farmers’ suicide in India


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