Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 28
As many as 65 farmers have committed suicide across Punjab ever since the three agriculture Acts were first announced as ordinances by the Modi government, shows data compiled by farmer unions on farm suicides in the agrarian state.
Farmers are blaming the high rate of suicides in the state on high rural indebtedness owing to poor remuneration they receive for their produce. Data provided by the unions shows though the average monthly income of farmers in Punjab was Rs 12,481 — higher than most other states — the average income generated from each hectare of land was much lower at Rs 3,448 (in Kerala it is Rs 34,910). No wonder any Act that has the possibility of tinkering with the farm economics is met with caution.
“The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act is a step that will leave procurement in the hands of corporates and there would be no guaranteed buy back of our crops,” says Jagmohan Patiala, member, All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee.
Last year, 501 farmers ended their lives in the state, shows the data compiled by Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan). For the past many years, the BKU has been collecting data on farm suicides through the ones reported in newspapers and the police cases registered after such suicides. In 2018, the number of suicides by agriculturists was 536.
“Though the number of suicides during the period of lockdown was less — just 12-13 per month, as against 40-45 per month before the lockdown, the number has again gone up. The 65 suicides have been recorded between June 24-September 1,” says Dharminder Pishor, who compiles the data for BKU.