“They cannot sit and pray for the rains to rectify the situation.”

821 farmer suicides in a year yet Karnataka lacks a comprehensive drought policyPTI
news Farmer Suicide Saturday, March 11, 2017 - 12:22

Four consecutive years of drought, lack of water, crop failure and growing debts have led to another spate of farmer suicides in Karnataka. According to officials with the Agricultural Department, there have been 821 farmer suicides in the state between April 2016 and March 2017.

But even as farmers take their own lives year after year, sources tell TNM that neither the Agriculture Department nor the Irrigation Department have come up with a comprehensive policy to help them in times of drought.

“The drought has become a perpetuity, the officials in both departments know these figures and yet they have no drought-proof policy. They cannot sit and pray for the rains to rectify the situation,” the source in the Agriculture department added.

Officials say that while 521 of the farmer suicides this year were drought-related deaths, 198 deaths were due to other issues.

“We have not yet included an additional 102 suicides as they are still being verified by the Forensic Department,” a source from the Agriculture Department said.

“The farmers have lost both the rabi and Kharif crops this year. We are yet to receive confirmation on waiving 50% of the farmers’ loans. The state has been hit with a drought we haven’t seen in almost 40 years,” he said.

“This figure is better than the 2015-16 data as there were 1,569 farmer suicides in that period and 457 of these occurred between April and November 2015,” he said.

What’s shocking is that a large number of suicides occurred in the crop season - between April and October 2016, officials said.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had in January 2016 advised banks to not pressurise farmers who are unable to pay off loans on time, and an official from the Agriculture department said that the Karnataka government is expected to announce more schemes in favour of the farmers during the budget presentation on March 15.


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