Saturday, July 18, 2015

Suicide of farmers in India

In India, suicide in farmers has been a significant problem for several years. More than 300,000 farmers committed suicide in this two decades. In 2014, the number was 12,360, risen by 5% from the previous year. The primary reason for the suicide is considered as financial problems, as bankruptcy and indebtedness were estimated to lead the tragedy in approximately 20% of the cases. 

Agriculture is one of the prominent contents of industry in India. And it its performance is easy to be influenced by external factors, such as climate change and the performance of foreign competitors. Not only natural disasters but also unexpected good harvest can shake the price of crops adversely. Unless they prepare for such situations, farmers are struck by a sudden reduction of income.

Recently, the Indian government had encouraged farmers to purchase genetically modified (GM) crops for maximizing the cost-effectiveness. However, some farmers failed to grow them up due to bad monsoon, and left a large amount of debt. Some media blamed this public policy.

On the other hand, farmers are not identified as risky occupations in terms of suicide. There are many people more likely to be exposed to social stresses. Farmers, who can breathe fresh air and take physical exercise, are rather safe from mental disorders, in general. Some practitioners recommend patients with mental disorders to have an opportunity to take part in agricultural activities.

In fact, there are 135,000 suicidal cases in India in a year. More than half of Indian are engaged in agriculture. It means that the suicide rate in farmers is less than that in the general population in India.

I have no doubt that poverty is a dominant risk for suicide. And the matter is that many Indians are suffering from poverty, regardless of their jobs. Although the government might be too optimistic to promote GM seeds, it is unfair to attribute suicide of Indian farmers to it or other single cause. It is a complex matter.

I think that one of the most effective way to reduce suicidal case in India is to regulate the sale of some kinds of insecticides, because a third of the means of suicide is poisoning, as I wrote in the past. Elimination of means is much easier than the elimination of the cause, and it is almost equally efficient.

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