The Indian Economy Blog

April 26, 2007

Helping Indian Farmers

Aaditya Mattoo, Deepak Mishra and Ashish Narain, in the Times of India, on the problem and solution for Indian agriculture:

So, here’s the paradox: the hard-working Indian farmer — one of the world’s low-cost producers — is unable to compete globally.

What is hobbling the Indian giant? A recent World Bank study finds that the biggest problems for India’s horticulture lie outside the sector rather than within it…
Remedying bottlenecks from farm to market is arguably a higher priority than raising farm productivity. Consider this: 20 per cent higher yields will only lower the final price by less than three percentage points.

In contrast, a 20 per cent reduction in transportation costs alone will reduce final prices by as much as 10 percentage points.

In fact, without more efficient logistics, increasing production — through subsidised credit, power and fertilisers — can lead to gluts that hurt rather than help farmers. [TOI]

20 Comments »

  1. The main problem with India is its woeful infrastructure. By infrastructure, I mean “hard” as well as “soft” infrastructure.To see what is really infrastructure, please visit China. If we had such big roads, roadworthy trucks that move at over 100 Km/hr seamlessly over the myriad flyovers and expressways (on one ride of over 200 Kms from Hefei to Tongling, I did not encounter even one signal, only overpasses and underpasses so that you can continue to move at 100-120 Km/hr non stop)transportation efficiency can easily increase by 30%. Secondly, if we had sufficient “soft” infrastructure, that is a single VAT based tax system, where the paper payments are really limited, all transactions by “smart cards” or through banks, there won’t be many bottlenecks in moving goods from place to place. This adds another 20 % to the efficiency easily (just look at the number of trucks parked at various check-nakas all over the country). Not to the reduction of corruption because of this system.
    This infrastructure, is what makes China a powerhouse for manufacturing, we can be the same, if we improved the infrastructure. And the same good infrastructure can be used very efficiently by farmers to move produce faster to market.If payments were bank based by electronic means, less opportunities for middlemen to skim off the farmer’s incomes…. and so on…

    Comment by Mandar — April 26, 2007 @ 8:13 am

  2. Infrastructure is one problem. The second problem is the massive fragmentation of Indian farms resulting in very low economies of scale. With the passage of time ancestral land has divided over generations and the typical Indian farm is extremely small now. I dont have the exact numbers, but I believe that a typical indian farm is about one-two acres in size vs a few hundred acres in the US. The overheads have to be spread over a smaller lot resulting in unsustainable economies of farming. So while the average farmer is quite poor, entrepreneurs and companies farming over large lots seem to be doing quite well. And I really have no idea what the solution to this problem can be

    Comment by Guhan — April 26, 2007 @ 6:39 pm

  3. Currently the Indian farming sector employs 40 to 50% of total work force which is a huge strain on the economy. More than 90% of the farming land is still dependent on the unpredictible monsoon rains which inturn increases the risk of productivity/returns causing huge turmoil in the lifes of the farmers. It is time to move the work force to other sectors like manufacturing or smaller cottage industries to bring more stability to the economic well being of the working population. Here are couple of sugestions:

    - Education (Mostly ITI based so that farming community can have an alternative income source than compelled to do farming.)

    - Tax based or any other incentives to manufacturing companies to setup plants at suburban/ rural areas helping less fortunate farmers to an alternative work option.

    - Infrastructure impovements.(Privatise the roads and have minimal tolls to use them. This will atleast help some transportation delays to decrease.)

    - I don’t know if there is a Land sealing Act still in effect which basically was used to remove the Zamindari system. If it does, may be its time to revisit it just so that each farmer can have more land to make some profit.

    My last thought is: unless you bring economic stability to the working population you cannot dream of a stable economy for a country.

    Comment by Punarvasu — April 27, 2007 @ 3:06 am

  4. Imagine if India had 300,000,000 accountants working away without the benefit of calculators, computers or software.

    Would subsidizing the cost of pencils and paper be the solution proposed to keep them toiling away 19th century style?

    900,000 American farmers produce about the same agricultural output as India’s 300,000,000 farmers.

    Seems like India can either buy some tractors and add 299,000,000 ex-farmers to their welfare rolls, or focus on building sectors of the economy that will offer lots of high-paying jobs in the future and leave the farmers alone.

    Comment by alphie — April 27, 2007 @ 11:12 am

  5. About alphie’s comment above, I had written a short story imagining if IT was run like farming: link.
    It’s kind of one-sided, but captures my understanding of the agriculture sector right now.

    Sorry if that seemed like advertising :D

    Comment by Pramod Biligiri — April 27, 2007 @ 12:26 pm

  6. This OFFTOPIC…but will somebody please educate this character. I started a post, but then got too angry, and started ranting. Thanks. You will be doing the world a favour. (Shame we can\\\’t do much about the NYTimes article this links to…

    http://www.theotherindia.org/economy/the-ultimate-subsidy.html

    Comment by Phoenix — April 27, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

  7. I think the problem is that farmers are not given their due. The whole thing has to go with balance. The farmers hardly anything else to live on. There has to be proper rehab plan of some sort. To worsen the situation, govt pays peanut to the farmers and sell the land at higher prices, or give the land to big companies at subsidy. It seems like a huge scam.

    Read this story, it is quite an eye opener.

    http://chandigarhland.org/

    Comment by Amandeep Sapra — May 2, 2007 @ 8:56 am

  8. Well…..this is something……aren’t we missing a point here…….ours is a largely and hugely populated country which is dogged by lethargic labour which is interested in working only for earning two square meals ( a stnadard sentence which 96% indians use to tell why they work)….to become efficient we have to really understand the nature of indian farmers….they are too tired and lethargic to work and toil like their counterpart in US or China……well still we are able to feed a billion indians…whatever two square meals it means.!!!!

    Comment by Starlight — May 5, 2007 @ 5:28 pm

  9. Economy of Scale wold tilt in favour of agrarian-economies where large-tracts of land would be harvested by effective-farming techniques and hooked to world-class consumer delivery supply-chains.(TRANSLATION: Big corporate (or) entrepreneur managed contract-farming done with an up-to-date farming techniques and harvests sold to efficient retail–supply chains like Reliance, Mittal-Walmarts. Innovative/Creative small/medium farms is always an exception anywhere). This would certainly happen to our farming in the next 5-10 yrs. Eventually this is inevitable for any capitalistic economy integrated into world through WTO.

    What would happen to small and midsize farming community who had been prcatising farming using traditional low-yield techniques on small tracts and relying on thier harvest for decades?

    This is where our federal policies and 5/10 yr plans should kick-in to plan and support a smooth transition of this community to other sectors where jobs/business opportunities being created would be serving this huge-block of farming community. How skillfull is our federal stewards in doing this is going to dictate the level of civil-unrest that has to be managed by our country in the next 1-2 decades.

    Comment by Krishna Moturi — May 29, 2007 @ 12:54 am

  10. [...] INDIA: Helping indian farmers: [...]

    Pingback by Agenda & Objectives: « Siva Moturi’s Policy Critique Blog — August 1, 2007 @ 3:08 am

  11. Last 60 years we are talking about agricultural growth. Government has made many efforts for updradion of agricultural land and growth ,irrigation facilities and green revolution which was brought about for the improvment of seeds . When we talk about the manufacturing sectors it taken a sharp growth . Again talking about the service sector , it has boomed in the economy . We are always recongised
    as financial boom and bpo boom , stock market boom in all over the country . But what about the agricultural sector . Is industrialist looking at our condition of agriculture .
    somebody has rightly said that
    1 . businessman – profit
    2 . enterpreneure – innovator his own product
    3 economist – good suggestions but lots of critism -critism .

    Comment by lakshmi — August 20, 2007 @ 8:19 pm

  12. I think aricultural sector is greatly negelected in india . When we speak about agriculture , the main advantage of our coutry is that whether there is up and downs in the market and industries , we are safe at aricultural side .The reseaon is that
    India is mainly an agricultural country . We get main resourses from agriculture and also raw materails.
    Today , there is an improvement in the agriculture example :Introduction of the multi exchange technology in commodity market .
    On the other hand cost and prices are very high ,especially the susidies . In India the subsidies are high but in ohter countries their is low subsidies .
    I also agree with the point mention by guhan about infrastructure . Ivestment are made in infrastructure but they are delayed because of political pressure.

    Comment by lakshmi — September 27, 2007 @ 5:07 pm

  13. Whatever way farmers are helped, as long as they are not educated it is difficult to improve agriculture standard. Moreover, we need a land reformation: the average land owned by a poor farmer can not afford for modern technologies in his day to day farming activity.

    Comment by gsee — October 17, 2007 @ 8:58 am

  14. Hi gsee,

    I’m really curious about Indian farmer demographics. If an average farmer is very poor how does a company like eChopal http://www.echoupal.com/ grow? I was looking at their website and it looks like it takes $5K US to setup an operation in a single village and at this point they span 11,000 villages.

    Cheers,

    Comment by Olive — October 18, 2007 @ 10:02 am

  15. I think there are many factors that devide farmers in a western culture to that of ones in India. One cannot compare farming in one country to another. The structures are totally different, the cultures are different, the peoples expectations are different, the currency is different and God knows what else is different. A farmer in one country can be earning $1000 in a week in once country and another farmer doing the same ammount of work can be earning $100 in a week or even less.

    Even though we all live in the 21st century we are really not in the same century in the sense. We are not in the same economic standards and the same working structures and the same human rights and working rights and all the other standards that are imposed in a western society. So in short one cannot compare how farms are yeilding one country to that of others. The climate also plays a big part in determining what crops will grow this year.

    India should not compete with any country but only with itself. They should aim to better themselves against figures from previous years but at the same time making sure the structures that are put forward don’t jeopardise future generation crop yields.
    Some farming practices can destroy the land for many years to come through the usage of western fertilisers and that is only one factor that needs to be sighted for future generations.

    Western society and to an extend lot of developing countries are waking up to the fact of keeping the land fertile for future generations.

    Comment by John — December 13, 2007 @ 8:07 pm

  16. One question that is difficult to answer is how much justifiable is the presence of private sector in our agricultural sector? My family has an agricultural background. Farming is no more considered to be a dignified job in the villages. Youth are running towards the nearest city. The villagers usually want themselves in secondary or tertiary occupation with fixed incomes. For them, a teacher is equivalent to a manager and B.Ed to MBA.

    Considering the agricultural crisis, this comes as a no surprise to any of us. With the increse risk in the agriculture due to various reason, farmers have lost their intrest and hopes. And that is quite reasonable- taking risk is not farmers’ but an entrepreneurs’ business. Therefore to a great extent private participation is necessary in this field even if they are exploitative in nature.

    Comment by Chetan N — December 21, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

  17. The story on agriculture reads same after 50 years of planning and investments. The economic text books 50 years ago cited same reasons for poor state of agriculture in India. Has nothing really changed ? I feel so sad. I felt people like sharad pawar could make some difference. My hope was perhaps misplaced. My point is that we are at such a low level of performance in farm productivity that any improvement should look really dramatic and we really cannot go down further. But I do see this happening. And we continue to blame population growth as we did in the past. Am I too pessimistic ?

    Comment by suresh raje — June 17, 2008 @ 9:18 pm

  18. The banes of Indian Agriculture can be summerised as follows:

    1. Sub-division of land with every child born in the farmer’s family will make land smaller than before.

    2. He is in perpetual indebtedness and the present day’s farmer is paying interest on the loan his grand-father took.

    3. He lacks resources to buy farm inputs, cannot use tractor, has to depend on local labor which is depleting with migration of able bodied men to urban area. Available labor is unaffordable.

    4. He has poor storage and lacks ability to market his produce and often the farmer sells his produce in distress. If some farmer can sell to the Government procurement agencies, he will need to pay bribe to babus.

    5. Water, the most important ingredient to farming is scarce and disputed in use with fellow farmers. Does not know the efficient use of water or switch to crops that need less water for fear of doomed by the risk.

    Governmental polices however good for the farmer’s benefit does not peculate to the actual farmer due to several middlemen non-performance of bureaucracy. Farmers produce whatever they feel comfortable with and aggregate of their produce forms the pattern of production in India. There is no concerted plan of producing the most suited crop and looking at balancing demand and supply. The management of the affairs of agriculturists is at fault for many reasons.

    The answer to the above:

    Investors can partner with groups of farmers and create an entity that will undertake farming activity on the lands of farmers. Farmer’s equity will be land and Investor’s equity will be cash. Farmer’s land will not be taken away and remain. The Organisation so formed will get in the best technology; reap the economies of large tracks land produce the best crop that can grow on the lands. The entity will market directly eliminating middlemen. This will evidently reduce cost and make the corporate venture profitable. Dividends will get farmers money. In addition the Organisation can engage farmers as workers on land and pay them a wage. The farmers will also feel that they are not taken away from the lands.

    I feel this will work and can become a behemoth eventually and begin to address social issues like education jelling with the new policy enunciated by the new minister in the Indian Polity.

    Raghavan

    Comment by Raghavan — June 27, 2009 @ 12:37 am

  19. Some of my suggestions to to help Indian farmers:

    1. We MUST bring cold-storage facility for Indian farmers so that they can store the extra produce that they cultivated each year and sell it in the next year.

    2. The transaporation costs should be reduced – to do this the STATE Govts must improve the basic road infrastructure.

    3. The buying power (pruchasing power) of the farmers have to be increased. This could be done by buying the farm products at the higher price (the Govt has to do this). This might result in inflation but one need not worry about inflation since this inflation in the long run will be offset by more subsequent urban growth. I talk about urban growth here because if the purchasing power of the farmers are incresed, then most of the farmers who dont own a TV, fan, AC, motor-bike and other basic ameneties will start spending the money that they have earned which will in-turn cause more manufacturing jobs and other showroom kind of jobs (just to give you an example) in the cities thereby directly helping urban-poor. So again, the cycle of consumer spending and thereby GDP growth (along with FDI) will kick-in thereby resulting in an overall increase in the National economy.

    4. Adiitionally, the Govt has to create more free, easy and direct access to markets for farmers.

    5. The Govt has to increase the increase irrigational facilties (this should be high priority thing for the Govt).

    6. Simply to stress the importance of this point, i would like to say – WITHOUT AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION THERE WILL BE NO PROSPEROUS INDIA.

    7. I read one of the cooments above which said more urban jobs for farmers – this kind of action is a great danger to India – becuase with a population of more than a BILLION population – this will create a food scarcity in the future (and if there is a global economic turmoil then there will be tremendous food scarcity and inflation which will be followed by stagflation)

    8. So, as i undertand that industrialization is the first step towards economic prosperity, i also understand that industrialization without Agrricultral growth (with innovation) will not yield a self-sufficient sustainable economic prosperity in India.

    Hope our leaders and people undertand it.

    Comment by JuniorEconomist — July 26, 2009 @ 11:29 am

  20. The number of farmers who have committed suicide in India between 1997 and
    2007 now stands at a staggering 182,936. Close to two-thirds of these
    suicides have occurred in five states (India has 28 states and seven union
    territories). The Big 5 – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya
    Pradesh and Chattisgarh– account for just about a third of the country’s
    population but two-thirds of farmers’ suicides. The rate at which farmers
    are killing themselves in these states is far higher than suicide rates
    among non-farmers. Farm suicides have also been rising in some other
    states of the country.
    It is significant that the count of farmers taking their lives is rising
    even as the numbers of farmers diminishes, that is, on a shrinking farmer
    base. As many as 8 million people quit farming between the two censuses of
    1991 and 2001. The rate of people leaving farming has only risen since
    then, but we’ll only have the updated figure of farmers in the census of
    2011.
    These suicide data are official and tend to be huge underestimates, but
    they’re bad enough. Suicide data in India are collated by the National
    Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a wing of the Ministry of Home Affairs,
    government of India. The NCRB itself seems to do little harm to the data.
    But the states where these are gathered leave out thousands from the
    definition of “farmer” and, thus, massage the numbers downward. For
    instance, women farmers are not normally accepted as farmers (by custom,
    land is almost never in their names). They do the bulk of work in
    agriculture – but are just “farmers’ wives.” This classification enables
    governments to exclude countless women farmer suicides. They will be
    recorded as suicide deaths – but not as “farmers’ suicides.” Likewise,
    many other groups, too, have been excluded from that list.
    The spate of farm suicides – the largest sustained wave of such deaths
    recorded in history – accompanies India’s embrace of the brave new world
    of neoliberalism. Many reports on that process and how it has affected
    agriculture have been featured right here, on the Counterpunch site. The
    rate of farmers’ suicides has worsened particularly after 2001, by which
    time India was well down the WTO garden path in agriculture. The number of
    farmers’ suicides in the five years – 1997-2001 – was 78,737 (or 15,747 a
    year on average). The same figure for the five years 2002-06 was 87,567
    1
    (or 17,513 a year on average). That is, in the next five years after
    2001, one farmer took his or her life every 30 minutes on average.
    The 2007 figures (detailed below) place that year, too, in the higher trend.
    What do the farm suicides have in common? Those who have taken their lives
    were deep in debt – peasant households in debt doubled in the first decade
    of the neoliberal “economic reforms,” from 26 per cent of farm households
    to 48.6 per cent. We know that from National Sample Survey data. But in
    the worst states, the percentage of such households is far higher.
    For instance, 82 per cent of all farm households in Andhra Pradesh were in
    debt by 2001-02. Those who killed themselves were overwhelmingly cash crop
    farmers – growers of cotton, coffee, sugarcane, groundnut, pepper,
    vanilla. (Suicides are fewer among food crop farmers – that is, growers of
    rice, wheat, maize, pulses.) The brave new world philosophy mandated
    countless millions of Third World farmers forced to move from food crop
    cultivation to cash crop (the mantra of “export-led growth”).
    For millions of subsistence farmers in India, this meant much higher cultivation costs,
    far greater loans, much higher debt, and being locked into the volatility
    of global commodity prices. That’s a sector dominated by a handful of
    multinational corporations. The extent to which the switch to cash crops
    impacts on the farmer can be seen in this: it used to cost Rs.8,000 ?($165
    today) roughly to grow an acre of paddy in Kerala. When many switched to
    vanilla, the cost per acre was (in 2003-04) almost Rs.150,000 ($3,000) an
    acre. (The dollar equals about 50 rupees.)
    With giant seed companies displacing cheap hybrids and far cheaper and
    hardier traditional varieties with their own products, a cotton farmer in
    Monsanto’s net would be paying far more for seed than he or she ever
    dreamed they would. Local varieties and hybrids were squeezed out with
    enthusiastic state support. In 1991, you could buy a kilogram of local
    seed for as little as Rs.7 or Rs.9 in today’s worst affected region of
    Vidarbha. By 2003, you would pay Rs.350 — ($7) — for a bag with 450
    grams of hybrid seed. By 2004, Monsanto’s partners in India were marketing
    a bag of 450 grams of Bt cotton seed for between Rs.1,650 and Rs.1,800
    ($33 to $36). This price was brought down dramatically overnight due to
    strong governmental intervention in Andhra Pradesh, where the government
    changed after the 2004 elections. The price fell to around Rs.900 ($18) –
    still many times higher than 1991 or even 2003.
    Meanwhile, inequality was the great man-eater among?the “Emerging Tiger”
    nations of the developing world. The predatory commercialization of the
    countryside devastated all other aspects of life for peasant farmer and
    landless workers. Health costs, for instance, skyrocketed. Many thousands
    of youngsters dropped out of both school and college to work on their
    parents’ farms (including many on scholarships). The average monthly per
    capita expenditure of the Indian farm household was just Rs.503 (ten
    dollars) by early this decade. Of that, 60 per cent roughly was spent on
    2
    food and another 18 per cent on fuel, clothing and footwear.
    Farmers, spending so much on food? To begin with, millions of small and
    marginal Indian farmers are net purchasers of food grain. They cannot
    produce enough to feed their families and have to work on the fields of
    others and elsewhere to meet the gap. Having to buy some of the grain they
    need on the market, they are profoundly affected by hikes in food prices,
    as has happened since 1991, and particularly sharply earlier this year.
    Hunger among those who produce food is a very real thing. Add to this the
    fact that the “per capita net availability” of food grain has fallen
    dramatically among Indians since the “reforms” began: from 510 grams per
    Indian in 1991, to 422 grams by 2005. (That’s not a drop of 88 grams. It’s
    a fall of 88 multiplied by 365 and then by one billion Indians.) As prof.
    Utsa Patnaik, India’s top economist on agriculture, has been constantly
    pointing out, the average poor family has about 100 kg less today than it
    did just ten years ago – while the elite eat like it’s going out of style.
    For many, the shift from food crop to cash crop makes it worse. At the
    end of the day, you can still eat your paddy. It’s tough, digesting
    cotton. Meanwhile, even the food crop sector is coming steadily under
    corporate price-rigging control. Speculation in the futures markets pushed
    up grain prices across the globe earlier this year.
    Meanwhile, the neoliberal model that pushed growth through one kind of
    consumption also meant re-directing huge amounts of money away from rural
    credit to fuel the lifestyles of the aspiring elites of the cities (and
    countryside, too). Thousands of rural bank branches shut down during the
    15 years from 1993-2007.
    Even as incomes of the farmers crashed, so did the price they got for
    their cash crops, thanks to obscene subsidies to corporate and rich
    farmers in the West, from the U.S. and EU. Their battle over cotton
    subsidies alone (worth billions of dollars) destroyed cotton farmers not
    merely in India but in African nations such as Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali,
    and Chad. Meanwhile, all along, India kept reducing investment in
    agriculture (standard neoliberal procedure). Life was being made more and
    more impossible for small farmers.
    As costs rose, credit dried up. Debt went out of control. Subsidies
    destroyed their prices. Starving agriculture of investment (worth billions
    of dollars each year) smashed the countryside. India even cut most of the
    few, pathetic life supports she had for her farmers. The mess was
    complete. From the late-’90s, the suicides began to occur at what then
    seemed a brisk rate.
    In fact, India’s agrarian crisis can be summed up in five words (call it
    Ag Crisis 101): the drive toward corporate farming. The route (in five
    words): predatory commercialization of the countryside. The result: The
    biggest displacement in our history.
    3
    Corporations do not as yet have direct control of Indian farming land and
    do not carry out day-to-day operations directly. But they have sewn up
    every other sector, inputs, outlets, marketing, prices, and are heading
    for control of water as well (which states in India are busy privatizing
    in one guise or another).
    The largest number of farm suicides is in the state of Maharashtra, home
    to the Mumbai Stock Exchange and with its capital Mumbai being home to 21
    of India’s 51 dollar billionaires and over a fourth of the country’s
    100,000 dollar millionaires. Mumbai shot to global attention when
    terrorists massacred 180 people in the city in a grisly strike in
    November. In the state of which Mumbai is capital, there have been 40,666
    farmers’ suicides since 1995, with very little media attention.
    Farmers’ suicides in Maharashtra crossed the 4,000-mark again in 2007, for
    the third time in four years, according to the National Crime Records
    Bureau. As many as 4,238 farmers took their lives in the state that year,
    the latest for which data are available,?accounting?for a fourth of all
    the 16,632 farmers’ suicides in the country. That national total
    represents a slight fall from the 17,060 farm suicides of 2006. But the
    broad trends of the past decade seem unshaken. Farm suicides in the
    country since 1997 now total 182,936.
    To repeat, the five worst affected states?– Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh,
    Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh?– account for two-thirds of all
    farmers’ suicides in India. Together, they saw 11,026 in 2007. Of these,
    Maharashtra alone accounted for?over 38 per cent. Of the Big 5, Andhra
    Pradesh saw a decline of 810 suicides against its 2006 total. Karnataka
    saw a rise of 415 over the same period. Madhya Pradesh (1,375) posted a
    decline of 112. But Chattisgarh’s 1,593 farm suicides mean an increase of
    110 over 2006. Specific factors in these states nourish the problem. These
    are zones of highly diversified, commercialized agriculture where cash
    crops dominate. Water stress has been a common feature, and gets worse
    with the use of technologies such as Bt seed that demand huge amounts of
    water. High external inputs and input costs are also common, as also the
    use of chemicals and pesticides. Mindless deregulation dug a lot of
    graves, lit a lot of pyres.
    Maharashtra registered a fall of 215 farm suicides in 2007. However, no
    other state even touches the 3,000 mark. And AP (with 1,797) and Karnataka
    (2,135) – the next two worst hit states – together do not cross
    Maharashtra’s 4,000-plus mark. A one-year dip of 221 occurred in 2005 too,
    in Maharashtra, only to be followed by an all-time high of 4,453 suicides
    in 2006. The state’s trend shows no turnaround and remains dismal.
    Maharashtra’s 2007 figure of 4,238 follows one and a half years of farm
    “relief packages” worth around Rs.5,000 crore ($1 billion) and a prime
    ministerial visit in mid-2006 to the distressed Vidharbha region. The
    state has also seen a plethora of official reports, studies and
    commissions of inquiry over 2005-07, aimed at tackling the problem.
    However, the 12,617 farm suicides in the same years is its worst ever
    total for any three-year period since the state began recording such data
    4
    in 1995. Indeed, farm suicides in Maharashtra since that year have crossed
    the 40,000 mark. The structural causes of that crisis seem untouched.
    Nationally, farmers’ suicides between 2002-07 were worse than for the
    years 1997-2001. NCRB data for the whole country now exists from
    1997-2007. In the five years till 2001, there were 15,747 farmers’
    suicides a year on average. For the six years from 2002, that average is
    17,366 farmers’ suicides each year. The increase is distressingly higher
    in the main crisis states.

    Comment by Gaurav Malik — August 12, 2009 @ 9:54 am

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