86,922 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2001-05
Sunday, 30 March 2008

Declining profitability and lack of alternative livelihood opportunities have forced 86,922 farmers in the country to commit suicide during 2001-05 period, said a survey by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific(UNESCAP), reports PTI.

“During 2001-05, 86,922 farmers committed suicides— 54 per cent from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra,” said the UN-ESCAP’s Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2008 which was released here Thursday.

The survey attributed the reasons for the large number of suicides by farmers to factors like declining profitability, growing production and marketing risks, institutional vaccum and lack of alternative livelihood opportunities.

“Interest rates for home and car loans are lower than those for farm loans. And even banks and micro-finance institutions charge 18-24 percent on farm loans,” the survey said, adding, institutional debt could reduce the debt burden of farmers.

Pointing out that Indian agriculture faces a crisis from debt, especially since the mid-1990s, the survey said, “of the estimated 89.3 million farmer households in 1993, 43.42 million (48.6 percent) were indebted.”

Quoting Indian government reports, it said, the average outstanding debt was Rs 12,585 per farmer household and Rs 25,902 per indebted farmer household. It further said farmers indebtedness was low in less developed states and high in agriculturally developed states.

More than half the indebted farmers took loans for capital or current business expenditure, accounting for 58.4 percent of outstanding loans, the survey said.

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