Sunday, 17 December 2017

Agriculture Crisis in Telangana - Comptroller and Auditor General Report 2014-15 - Tabled in Telangana State Assembly

In an embarrassing remark on the functioning of state leadership, the Comptroller and Auditor General in its report for 2014-15 was tabled in the State Assembly, which has observed that there is an evidence of unrealistic budgetary assumptions and weaknesses in expenditure monitoring and control. The entire Supplementary provision of Rs 5,359 crore proved unnecessary as the actual expenditure Rs 64,097 crore incurred was less than the original budget provision of Rs 1,01,323 crore. The report also further stated that the unrealistic budgetary allocations resulting in substantial savings, unnecessary Supplementary grants, expenditure incurred without provision and excess re-appropriations resulting in excess provision are indication of poor budget management.
Recently, the Department of Information and Public Relations of Telangana government has published two page advertorial in daily newspapers highlighting Mission Kakatiya programme, which was already launched in 2014, aims to increase agriculture based income for small and marginal farmers, by accelerating the development of minor irrigation infrastructure. It was stated in the advertorial that under the Mission Kakatiya program more that 45000 tanks and many lakes will be restored in Telangana region and it will have huge bearing on generation of rural employment, poverty reduction and agricultural growth. Further, it was also mentioned that Rs. 26,657 crore budget has been allotted for the year 2016-17.)
(On contrary the Comptroller and Auditor General, which has assessed the implementation of the irrigation projects in Telangana state, has exposed that the state government has not disclosed the financial results of any of its irrigation projects despite having largest irrigation projects in India. It has further mentioned, “Several policy initiatives taken up by Government were either unfulfilled or were partially executed, primarily due to non-approval of scheme guidelines/modalities, non-commencement of works for want of administrative sanction and poor project implementation, apart from non-release of budget.”
The Comptroller and Auditor General observation clearly reflects the haphazard vision of the state leadership and its administrative failures in managing the emerging agrarian crisis in the state. Handling of irrigation projects today stand as a monument for faulty and mindless planning.
In other instance, the autocratic approach and dictatorial tendency towards farmers by the Telangana Government has clearly reflected in its affidavit filed before high of court of Hyderabad, which stated that due to lavish life style, and spending huge amount of money on marriages and children’s education are among the reasons for farmers’ suicide in the state.
Whereas, in the midst of financial crisis, in an absolute disgrace the Chief Minister has travelled to China on a private jet hired for Rs. 2 crore on an exchequer cost, to attend the World Economic Forum. Similarly, the chief minister has gifted himself a swanky bulletproof Mercedes Benz bus, which bleed the whole of Rs 5 crore to the exchequer.
During separate Telangana agitation, the political parties including the Telangana Rasthra Samiti, had promised to change the fortunes of the farmers, who were subjected to exploitation of their resources like water and power. However, the plight of farmers, under the current dispensation is effectively left at the mercy of the monocratic government, which remains insensitive towards agricultural sector.
While the state economy is shambles, the ruling government took a decision to increase the salary of the legislators from Rs 95,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh per month, and the chief minister’s salary has been hiked from Rs 2.44 lakh to Rs 4.21 lakh, while the ministers salary has increased from Rs 2.42 lakh to Rs 4 lakh. Interestingly the ruling party has tried to justify the hike on grounds of increased expenses and that the legislators were involved in the process of ‘nation building’.

In the current scenario, the growing agricultural crisis and its manifestations have not gone entirely unnoticed, with the state government. In past the Telangana region is known as “Rice Bowl of India” and today the agriculture sector in this region is in advanced stage of crisis and the causes of this crisis are manifold and they are predominantly related to the mal governance and feudal practice of the state.

Friday, 15 December 2017

AGRICULTURAL CRISIS AND FARMERS SUICIDES IN INDIA WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO TELANGANA

(This Paper was presented in the National Seminar Organized by Santh Dhamaji College, Mangalwedha, Affiliated to Solapur University, Maharashtra State on 8th & 9th, December, 2017)

-* Dr. S. Vijay Kumar
            India is considered as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Agriculture is the mother of most of the economies in the world. Much of its influence is on the other sectors - industry and service. India is the second largest in farm output after China. Hence, India’s economic security continues to be predicated upon the agriculture sector, and the situation is not likely to change in the near future. Even today, the share of agriculture in employment is about 49% of the population, as against around 75% at the time of independence and it is the principal source of livelihood for more than 58% of the population. The share of agriculture in GDP is 17%.  It accounts for 7.68 percent of total global agricultural output. Contribution of Agriculture sector in Indian economy is much higher than world's average (6.1%). China with lesser cultivable land produces double the food grains, i.e. 607 million tons in 2015 -16 as compared with India’s 252 million tons  in 2015-16. We have to learn several things from China and Israel regarding various agricultural techniques. Royal Commission on Agriculture quotation – “Indian  farmers born in debt, lives in debt, dies in debt and inherits debt ” is true even today. Farmer suicides account for 11.2% of all suicides in India. GOI informed Supreme Court  over 12,000 farmer suicides per year since 2013. As of 2017,  large numbers of farmer suicides have occurred in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, M.P, Bihar, UP, Chattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand. According to economist K. Nagaraj, author of the biggest study on Indian farm suicides, even though the farmer population shrinks, the number of farmer suicides are rising in India. The present cropping intensity of 136% has registered an increase of only 25% since independence. Further, in our country, rain fed dry lands constitute 65% of the total net sown area. There is an unprecedented degradation of land (107 million ha) and groundwater resource, and also fall in the rate of growth of total factor productivity. Vicious cycle of poverty, crops failure, illiteracy, high indebtedness, exploitation by traders, low level of income, low level technology, Government Policies, addiction to alcohol, domestic affairs, old traditions, pessimistic outlook of farmers etc. are other main reasons for agricultural crisis and farmers suicides in India. Agricultural productivity has to be doubled to meet growing demands of the population by 2050. Prof M.S. Swaminathan, a noted Agricultural Scientist said that half of the farmers in the country want to quit farming. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify the severity of the problems of agricultural crisis and farmer suicides in India and ponder over it to find out solutions. The need of the hour is protect our farmers by all means, thus avoiding their suicides and agrarian crisis. This Paper is an attempt to focus attention on causes of agricultural crisis and farmer suicides in India with special reference to Telangana.
Objectives of the Paper:
·         Indian Agriculture at a Glance During Different Ages
·         Over View of the Current Indian Agriculture Crisis
·         Review of Literature
·         Farmer Suicides in India and Special Reference to Telangana at a Glance
·         Causes for Agricultural Crisis in India
·         Causes for Farmer Suicides in India and Telangana
·         Remedial Measures and Suggestions
·         Future of  Agriculture in India & ConclusionMethodology: The Study is based on empirical data and information accessed from different sources like Central Statistical Organization (CSO), Economic Surveys, GOI Websites and other relevant Websites. National and International Journals and Reports.
Indian Agriculture at a Glance During Different Ages:
Ancient Indian Agriculture: India is a agricultural country since Vedic period. Agriculture has been referred in Vedas. According to the Markandeya PuraṇaBrahma was regarded as the first inventor of Agriculture. According to Rig Veda, cultivated fields are called kṣetra and fertile ones as urvara. Another term used in connection with agriculture was sita. The term krsti in Rig Veda denotes agriculturists. In Bhagvat Gita Lord Krishna had identified himself has Ashawatha Vruksham (Pipal). “Ashawatha Sarva Vrukshanam Shrestam.” The meaning of this Shlok is: Among all trees (Chapter 10, Shlok  26) Ashawatha Vruksham is the best. Kautilya in ‘Arthashasthram’ gave crop yield forecasting methods and described agriculture as the basis of business and trade.
Indian Agriculture During Pre - British Period: The concept of India as a purely agricultural country is far from truth, the historical evidence shows that India was a very powerful agricultural as well as commercial and industrial power on the earth prior to the advent of the British. In the early days of the Christian era (lst Century A.D. – about 2000 years before) Roman women’s passion for Indian cloth. Indian textiles, became very popular in England and William III of England in 1700 A.D. prohibited the entry of Indian textiles by imposing a fine of pounds 200 to the wearer or the seller of Indian silk and calico. “Between 1762 and 1766 there were villages which produced up to 12 tons of paddy a hectare (Chengalpattu data about pre - British India). This level of productivity can be obtained only in the best of the Green Revolution areas of the country.

Indian Agriculture During British Period: Britishers introduced a new class of landlords called Zamindars who regarded land as their private property and aimed at obtaining maximum monetary gains out of it. The cultivators, the actual tillers of land, were mere tenants with no rights and could be evicted by the land-owners. Commercialization of agriculture became prominent around 1860 A.D. This brought about a change from cultivation for home consumption to cultivation for the market. India was reduced to the supplier of raw materials and food grains to Britain and importer of British manufactured goods. Many commercial crops like, cotton, jute, tea, tobacco were introduced to meet the demand in Britain. Monetization of land revenue payments was another important casual factor for agricultural commercialization. Further, increasing demand for some of the commercial crops in other foreign countries gave impetus to commercialization of agriculture. During the later part of 19th century, the production of commercial crops increased by 85 percent and that of food crops fell by 7 percent. This had a devastating effect on the rural economy and often took the shape of famines. The British regime in India did supply the irrigation works but rarely on the scale required.  According to the Census Returns of 1881, 72 percent of the whole male population engaged in some specific occupation are directly supported by Agriculture. The estimate of the Famine Commissioners was that 90 percent of the rural population live, more or less, by the tillage of the soil.

Recent Scene of Indian Agriculture: “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” (Masanobu Fukuoka – a soil scientist from Japan). But, in India, one of the frequent criticism made against Indian planning is that it has not given adequate priority to agriculture, which is responsible for most of the problems it is facing today. In fact, our Second Plan period (Mahalanobis Plan), laid emphasis mainly on development of industrial sector. However, this apathy towards agriculture changed with the model of “Indian Green Revolution” by Bharat Ratna Chidambaram Subramaniam along with M. S. Swaminathan, B. Sivaram and Norman E. Borlaug, which led to a record production of wheat in 1972. However, this green revolution  and lobbying of agriculture in 1980s did not not sustain and gave its way to a declining agricultural growth and its share in GDP due to demographic pressure leading to marginalization, declining input-output parity causing decline in profitability, etc (Posani, 2009). Annadata sukhi bhava is our culture, means the food donor/provider i.e. farmer should be always be healthy and happy. But, the reality is contrast to this saying. India, the world’s second largest food producer, is facing a situation where farmers are found to quit farming or even worse –‘Quit their lives’. In a country where more than half of the population directly depends on farming, this is a serious concern. According to a  survey, recent statistics shows that the percentage of agriculturists willing to quit farming and move to cities is a whopping 62%. This growing distress and declining confidence in these small and landless farmers is due to low returns on profits that they are getting. Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan said that debt waiver schemes of central and state governments have not benefited farmers as they restricted credit flow subsequently. Credit waiving is in installments and not at once, hence it is a blow to farmers, because unless loan is not completely waived, farmers will not get fresh loans. About 60% of the farmers take loan only to purchase fertilizers, seeds, pesticides etc. Awareness about Minimum Support Price (MSP), under which purchases are made from the farmers at the rates declared by the Government of India, is also low. Approximately 62 per cent of farmers were not aware of MSP. Among those who had heard about MSP, most of them were not satisfied with the rates of crops decided by the government. Farmers are failing to recover even their capital let aside their profit and labour charges. Nowadays, farmers are not getting adequate support from the government as industry is getting in the form SEZs etc. All these problems eventually propelled agrarian distress in the country and the present epidemic of farmers’ suicide is the outburst of such distress.
Over View of the Current Indian Agriculture Crisis: Agriculture in India is undergoing a structural change leading to a crisis situation. The rate of growth of agricultural output is gradually declining in the recent years. The relative contribution of agriculture to the GDP has been declining over time steadily. The performance of agriculture by crop categories also clearly indicates the slowing down process of agriculture in India. The onset of deceleration in agriculture began from early nineties and it became sharp from the late nineties. The trends in the area, input use, capital stock and technology also reflect the agricultural downfall and the farmer’s response accordingly. It is alarming that India is moving towards a point of no return, from being a self-reliant nation of food surplus to a net importer of food. All these trends indicate that the agricultural sector in India is facing a crisis today. In India, youth are not accepting agriculture as their profession like other professions. Because,  today farming sector is facing numerous problems. Unless we attend them, the younger generation will not accept farming as their profession. Agriculture is no more a profitable economic activity when compared to other enterprises. The income derived from this sector is not sufficient enough to meet the expenditure of the cultivators. Therefore, unless agriculture is made a profitable enterprise, the present crisis cannot be solved. The related factors responsible for the crisis include: dependence on rainfall and climate, climate change, liberal import of agricultural products, reduction in agricultural subsidies, lack of easy credit to agriculture and dependence on money lenders, decline in government investment in the agricultural sector and conversion of agricultural land for alternative uses. Agricultural crisis in India is very vast and likely to hit all the other sectors and the national economy in several ways. In specific, it has adverse effects on food supply, prices of food grains, cost of living, health and nutrition, poverty, employment, labour market, land loss from agriculture and foreign exchange earnings. Therefore, the crisis in agriculture is a crisis for the country as a whole.
Review of Literature:
All India Studies on Farmers Suicides:
Dominic Merriott (2017) revealed that the socio-economic factors are an important cause to suicides rather than mental health problems. He found increased indebtedness playing the predominant role among the causative factors. The vulnerability of the farmer amid financial situation has become the major leading factor to get distressed through the manifestation of lacking investment and irrigation improvement, use of cash crops and non-institutional credit sources.
Dandekar and Bhattacharya (2017) The recent study in Yavatmal (major crop being Cotton) in Maharashtra and Sangrur (major crop being Paddy) in Punjab, which have recorded relatively higher farmer suicides reported inappropriate cropping patterns, rising resource costs, aspirational consumption, and the absence of non-farm income in addition to indebtedness as major reasons for farmer suicides .
Kumar (2017) revealed that the discourse of farmer suicides advances with three mutually interconnected arguments. First, it implicitly contends that the phenomenon constitutes an unprecedented category of suicides that relates exclusively, or at least primarily, to a set of farming related antecedents. Second, the distinct etiological category of suicide is statistically significant. The cumulative number of such deaths is remarkably large for any of the concerned states in any single year since 1998. Third, it has been conceived in the modal terms of an agrarian economic crisis.
Anneshi and Gowda (2015) concluded that both small and large farmers borrowed relatively higher proportion of the non-institutional sources as compared to institutional sources. Accessibility to institutional borrowing is relatively higher for large farmers. Similarly, both small and large farmers owed more outstanding debt to non-institutional sources as compared to institutional sources.
Macharia (2015) investigated that a majority of marginal and small farmers depend on non-institutional credit facilities (i.e. money lenders, micro financiers and traders). He also reported farmer suicide incidents among the scheduled castes and scheduled tribe families who had cultivated commercial crops. Low yields, extremely reduced profits and mounting debts, made their life extremely difficult.
Singh et al., (2014) based on the research in Punjab found that the level of education, non-farm income, farm size and non-institutional credit were the main factors which affect the level of farmers’ indebtedness. The study also revealed that the farmers face multiple problems in availing institutional credit, which drives them into the debt trap of the crafty and exploitative non-institutional sources of credit.
Chikkara and Kodan (2014) opined that the informal mechanism of credit delivery played an important role for marginal and small farmers in meeting their credit requirements in Haryana. In addition, maximum indebtedness was found to be in the Monthly Per capita Consumption Expenditure (MPCE) class farm households of Rs.615 to Rs.775.
Sarah Hebous and Stefan Klonner (2014) empirically analyzed the various sources of extreme economic distress in rural India by using district-level data on farmer suicides to estimate the effects of transitory economic shocks and structural change in agriculture on the incidence of suicides in farm households. Rainfall conditions are used as an instrumental variable and it was found that transitory spikes in poverty caused by lack of rainfall increase suicides among male and decrease suicides among female members of farm households. However, they concluded that the combined causal effect of a poverty shock on suicides in farm households has been positive. Also, a shift from subsistence crops to cash crops, especially cotton, was found to be associated with a decrease in male suicides.
Mohanty (2013) views farmer suicides as having resulted from a combination of ecological, economic and social crisis. He goes to say that it points to the modern agricultural practice, which has become an independent, household or family enterprise, without requiring any link and interaction among the cultivators themselves.
Vasavi (2012) explained in her book, Shadow Spaces, stated that, bewilderment, loss of meaning and uncertainty among farmers due to the unrelenting failures of policies and responses is doubtful to change unless there is a paradigm shift in the general outlook that starts with trusting agriculturists’ knowledge and working towards those elements that enhance their capacities for collective action.

A Brief Note - Global Studies on Farmers Suicides: Studies in India, Sri Lanka, USA, Canada, England and Australia have identified farming as one of the most dangerous industries associated with a high suicide rate than in general population. In France, there is a farmer suicide every two days, in the United States of America (US) the rate of farmer suicide is just under two times that of suicide amongst the general population, and Australia reports one farmer suicide every four days. In the Midwest of the U.S. suicide rates among male farmers are twice that of the general population. In Britain farmers are taking their own lives at a rate of one a week. In India, one farmer committed suicide every 32 minutes between 1997 and 2005.
Farmer Suicides in India at a Glance: According to study by Nagraj (2008) based on National Crime Records Bureau (NRCB), every seventh suicide in the country was a farm suicide during 1997-2006. Male farm suicide increased quite rapidly at a rate of 3% per annum in 1997-2006, while female farm suicide rate was almost static. The National Crime Records Bureau of India reported in its 2012 annual report, that 135,445 people committed suicide in India, of which 13,755 were farmers (11.2%). Of these, 5 out of 29 states accounted for 10,486 farmers suicides (76%) – Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. GOI informed Supreme Court  over 12,000 farmer suicides per year since 2013. In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau of India reported 5,650 farmer suicides. The highest number of farmer suicides were recorded in 2004 when18,241 farmers committed suicide. The farmers suicide rate in India has ranged between 1.4 and 1.8 per 100,000 total population, over a 10-year period i.e. 2005 – 2015. By 2016, April 116 farmers have committed suicide due to agrarian reasons, with maximum cases reported in Maharashtra, followed by Punjab and Telangana. More than 2,000 farmers’ suicide cases were reported due to agrarian reasons in 2015 with highest number of 1,841 cases in Maharashtra alone. Most of the suicides in India are attributed to debt trap, exploitation by traders, crops failures, failure of continuous monsoons and drought. Telangana is mostly dependent on dry land farming. As of 2017,  large numbers of farmer suicides have occurred in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, M.P, Bihar, UP, Chattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand. According to economist K. Nagaraj, author of the biggest study on Indian farm suicides, even though the farmer population shrinks, the number of farmer suicides are rising in India.
Special Reference to Farmer Suicides in Telangana: The State of Telangana was formed on 2nd June, 2014 as 29th State of India. Most of the agriculture in Telangana is dry land farming and dependent on monsoon, tanks, dug wells and bore wells due to lack of sufficient irrigation facilities. In the event of delayed and deficient monsoon, farmers in Telangana have to depend on bore wells. Farmers’ organisations point out that there are around 2 million functional bore wells in Telangana. With Rs 60,000 as the average cost of setting up one bore well, farmers in Telangana have invested Rs 12,000 crore on bore well irrigation. Farmers, however, do not receive sufficient power supply from the state. Of the seven hours of free power promised by the government, farmers receive only two to three hours of electricity to run the wells. Additionally, for every functional bore well, there are two to three failed bore wells. Due to ground water depletion, most of the bore wells failed. There are many farmers who dug up10 to 12 bore wells for search of water. Due to lack of institutional credit for digging bore wells farmers are forced to borrow from private money lenders at exorbitant interest rates and lack of fresh bank loans in the monsoon crop season are the reasons causing farmers to fall into debt traps. Major  reason being bore wells failure for famer suicides in Telangana, other reasons are: crop loss, withering crops, rising debts, no returns, poor growth of crops, personal and other. Due to delay in waiving of crop loans farmers not only failed to avail fresh loans, but have also been deprived of crop insurance. Banks usually deduct insurance premium while issuing crop loans. Due to this a majority of the farmers in Telangana cannot get insurance benefit if the crop fails. In 2013,  according to the National Crime Record Bureau, over 2,000 farmers committed suicide in the undivided Andhra Pradesh; 1,400 were from Telangana. Most of the farmers who have committed suicide are cotton growers and tenant farmers. They face losses as they invest more on seeds or grow cotton on soil unsuitable for the crop. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 898 farmers committed suicides in Telangana during 2014, which was the second highest number in the country after Maharashtra. State Government failed to provide crop insurance at par with industry. Failure of crops almost always renders the farmers incapable of paying back the loan installments, and if crops fail in two or more consecutive seasons, farmers invariably find themselves in a debt trap and committing suicides. In 2015, NCRB statistics show that Telangana witnessed more suicides by women farmers. It also ranked second where farmers ended their lives due to poverty. Twenty Telangana farmers ended their lives due to poverty, next only to Maharashtra (27), but high compared to AP (13). Another area where Telangana achieved a dubious distinction is that of suicide of large number of farmers/cultivators. Of the 160 suicides of farmers, a whooping 79 are reported from Telangana alone. Suicides due to illness were also recorded by the Bureau and Telangana stood third with 160 cases. Data prepared by NGO Rayathu Swarajya Vedika (RSV) reveals a whooping 3,026 farmer suicide in newly formed state of Telangana since its inception (2/06/2014 to 28/06/2017).

Table 1- Number of Suicides and Percentage of Farmer Suicides to all India total in 2014
Sl. No.
States
Number of Suicides in 2014
% of farmer Suicides to all India total in 2014
1
Maharashtra
2,568
45.5
2
Telangana
898
15.9
3
Madhya Pradesh
826
14.6
4
Chhattisgarh
443
7.8
5
Karnataka
321
5.7
6
Andhra Pradesh
160
2.8
7
Kerala
107
1.9
8
Tamil Nadu
68
1.2
9
Uttar Pradesh
63
1.1
10
Gujarat
45
0.8
11
Punjab
24
0.4
12
Haryana
14
0.3
13
West Bengal
-
-
14
Other states
105
1.9
15
UT's
8
0.1

Total
5650
100.00
Source: NCRB, 2015
As per the Table 1, The NCRB publication of 2014 reported 5650 farmer suicides in the country. Maharashtra, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka states together accounts for 89.5 per cent of the total farmer suicides.

Table: 2 – States with high Suicides in Farming Sector (2015)
Sl. No.
State
No. of Farm Suicides
Share of total %
1
Maharashtra
3,030
37.8
2
Telangana
1,358
17
3
Karnataka
1,197
14.9
4
Chhattisgarh
854
10.7
5
Madya Pradesh
581
7.3
6
Andhra Pradesh
516
6.4
Source: NCRB
It is evident from the Table – 2 in 2015, Maharashtra is the highest in farm suicides followed by Telangana, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. 2015 saw 8,007 farmer suicides when compared to 5,650 in 2014.

Table – 3: Five States in India having higher number of Farm Suicides (2016 and 2017)
Sl. No.
Year
State
No. of Farm Suicides
Year
State
No. Farm Suicides
1
2016
Maharashtra
3052
2017 in Jan. to April.
Maharashtra
852
2
Feb. 2016 to mid of Feb. 2017
Madya Pradesh
1982
2017
Madya Pradesh
------
3
2016-17 (11 Months)
Karnataka
848
2017
Karnataka
51

2014
Telangana
898
---------
-----------


2015
Telangana
1358
---------
-----------

4
2016
Telangana
774
2017
Telangana
155
5
2016
Tamil Nadu
200(Un Official)
2016-17
Tamil Nadu
30 (Official)


Source: NCRB, Hindustan Times (14/04/2017) Report and Assembly Statement of Madya Pradesh. First Post. Regarding Maharashtra. Bangalore Mirror (10/04/2017), Karnataka. Telangana - Rythu Swarajya Vedika’s compilation from local media reports. India Today in (23/04/2017) Tamil Nadu. Regarding Karnataka - The Hindu (2/04/2017).

Analysis: As per the Table – 3, Among all the five States in 2016, Maharashtra stood high in farm suicides. Second comes Madya Pradesh. Third, fourth and fifth comes Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. In 2017 also Maharashtra stood high among all. Telangana is the next followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Important thing to be note here in case of Tamil Nadu is that in 2016, while opposition party DMK claims 200 farm suicides in 2016, the ruling party AIDMK claims only 30 farmer suicides in 2016-17 as per the report submitted to Supreme Court of India by Tamil Nadu Government. In Telangana,  in 2015 There were higher farmer suicides when compared with 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Table – 4: Total Farm Suicides: Farmers and Agricultural Labourers in India (2013 - 2016)

Year
Farm Suicides (Farmers & Agri. Labourers)
2013
11772
2014
12360
2015
12602
2016
  6867 Mainly from MS,MP,KS,TS & TN
Source: NCRB ADSI Annual Reports.
Note: For 2016, the NCRB’s ADSI report is still awaited. The reported data of around 6867 farm suicides for 2016 is mainly from 5 states: Maharashtra, Madya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. From all the Tables: 1, 2, 3 & 4 Maharashtra is the highest in farm suicides.

Causes for Agricultural Crisis in India:
Globalization: Globalization integrated Indian economy with global economy in 1991. In India, economic growth improved significantly in the post-reform period. It is considered as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, the problems of globalization have not been seriously addressed by the government policies and strategies, especially with regard to agriculture sector. One of the excluded sectors during reform period was agriculture which showed low growth and experienced more farmers’ suicides due to fake and terminal seeds, low prices and inadequate agricultural policies. The post- reform growth was led by services. Particular worry is agriculture sector which showed lower than 4% per annum target in the last Plans, including 12th Plan. There is disconnection between employment growth and GDP growth. In other words, employment is not generated in industry and services where growth is high. On the other hand, GDP growth is low in agriculture where majority are employed.  Post reform period, agricultural growth is recording a fall, mainly is in food grains in the first phase of reform but growth during this period sustained due to rise growth rate of commercial crops such as horticulture and oilseeds, cotton and allied sectors like livestock. But after globalization agriculture as a whole declined drastically while non agriculture sector is growing fast, this poor performance of agriculture particularly food grains has become a serious concern for the policy makers as there is a chance of facing the problem of food security.

Shifting in Cropping Pattern, Increasing Landlessness and Inequality in Land holdings: India shifted its cropping pattern from less-remunerative food grains to high-value and export-oriented cash crops. That is why, during the post reform period there has been an increase in the inequality of distribution of land owned.
Declining Productivity in Agriculture and Increasing Marginalization of Peasantry: Productivity Levels are very low- The productivity levels primarily determine the income of the farmers. However, the per unit area productivity of Indian agriculture is much lower than other major crop producing countries. During the post-reform phase the sectoral distribution of GDP in India has seen a consistent declining share of agriculture. However, the shifting of associated labour force from agriculture has been much less than proportionate compared to other sectors.
Diminishing Profitability of Agriculture: The post-reform phase has generally witnessed a fall in profitability of agriculture, notwithstanding a variation across crops and regions (Sen 2004; Sen and Bhatia 2004; Surjit 2008). Surjit, V (2008) in his study of farm business incomes from paddy cultivation in seven most important paddy-growing states shows that in four out of seven states, the growth rate of farm business incomes, which was positive in the 1980s, became negative in the 1990s. In other three states except Andhra Pradesh, the growth rate slowed down significantly in 1990s.
Declining Growth Rates of Agriculture: Declining growth rate of agriculture in the early reform period (1991-92 to 1996-97) from 3.66% to 1.2% per annum in 2015-16.
Slowdown of Exports and Increased Uncertainty vis-à-vis Cultivation: Contrary to the promise of economic reforms, India has witnessed a major rise in imports, rather than exports, of agricultural commodities after the mid-1990s.
The Reduction of Input Subsidies: The fiscal reforms that followed liberalization, there has been decline of state subsidies on inputs. It is the fault of Union Government for reduction in subsidies without preparing our farmers to face the challenges of “Globalization”. Any reduction in the subsidies adversely affect farmers because they have to pay more for inputs. India offers less subsidies to farmers when compared with other countries
Decline in Public Investment in Agricultural Research and Extension and Irrigation: Liberalization led to a drastic decline in the growth rate of public spending on agricultural research and extension. The growth rate of public spending on agricultural research and extension during 1980s to 1990-2005 has fallen from 6.3 and 7 per cent to 4.8 and 2 per cent respectively. There is a failure on the part of Agricultural Research and Extension Services in informing and instructing the farmers for the improvement of agriculture.

Low level of Income of Small Farmers: Price is income for any producer. Industrialists can the fix the prices of their products. But, unfortunately in our country, it is pitiable that the farmers cannot fix the prices of their crops. Our farmers are not getting reasonable prices for their produce, hence low incomes.

Lack of Easy and Cheap Loan to Agriculture: The National Commission for Agriculture, headed by Dr M.S. Swaminathan, pointed out that removal of the lending facilities and concessions of banks during the post-reform period have accelerated the crisis in agriculture. When the farmers were not able to pay back loan with high interest, they fell into the debt trap. Studies show that most of the farmers’ suicides are due to the debt trap. As they are not provided with other  non – agricultural loans for their personal needs like for  marriages of their daughters and children education etc; are also some of the reasons for  their  frequent debt trap.
Small and Fragmented Land-Holdings: Sub-division and fragmentation of the holdings is one of the main causes of for low agricultural productivity and backwardness of agriculture.

Shortage of Quality Seeds: Seed is a critical and basic input for attaining higher crop yields and sustained growth in agricultural production. Unfortunately, good quality seeds are out of reach of the majority of farmers, especially small and marginal farmers mainly because of exorbitant prices of better seeds. Some of the multi- national and other companies selling fake and terminal seeds and fake pesticides causing farmers’ suicides. In the olden days farmers used to prepare their own seeds for future crops. But, today most of the farmers are dependent on seed companies. Due to this, MNCs and other seed companies are exploiting our farmers. This is also one of the reasons of farmers’ suicides in India.

Manures, Fertilizers and Biocides: Indian soils have been used for growing crops over thousands of years without caring much for replenishing. This has led to depletion and exhaustion of soils resulting in their low productivity. The average yields of almost all the crops are among the lowest in the world. Post - green revolution has led to increase in utilization artificial fertilizers and pesticides in place of natural manures and methods for increase in yield/acre. Which resulted  increase in cost of production of agriculture.
Inadequate Irrigation Facilities: Although India is the second largest irrigated country of the world after China, only one-third of the cropped area is under irrigation. Irrigation is the most important agricultural input in a tropical monsoon country like India where rainfall is uncertain, unreliable and erratic India cannot achieve sustained progress in agriculture unless and until more than half of the cropped area is brought under assured irrigation.

Lack of Mechanization: In spite of the large scale mechanization of agriculture in some parts of the country, most of the agricultural operations in larger parts are carried on by human hand using simple and conventional tools and implements like wooden plough, sickle, etc. This is specially the case with small and marginal farmers. It results in huge wastage of human labour and in low yields per capita labour force.
Inadequate storage facilities: Storage facilities in the rural areas are either totally absent or grossly inadequate. Under such conditions the farmers are compelled to sell their produce immediately after the harvest at the prevailing market prices which are bound to be low. Such distress sale deprives the farmers of their legitimate income. The Parse Committee estimated the post-harvest losses at 9.3 per cent of which nearly 6.6 per cent occurred due to poor storage conditions alone.
Inadequate transport: One of the main handicaps with Indian agriculture is the lack of cheap and efficient means of transportation. Even at present there are lakhs of villages which are not well connected with main roads or with market centers. Most roads in the rural areas are Kutcha (bullock- cart roads) and become useless in the rainy season. Under these circumstances the farmers cannot carry their produce to the main market and are forced to sell it in the local market at low price. Hence, linking each village with the agriculture market is vital.
Scarcity of Capital: The role of capital input is becoming more and more important with the advancement of farm technology. The main suppliers of money to the farmer are the money-lenders, traders and commission agents who charge high rate of interest and purchase the agricultural produce at very low price. All India Rural Credit Survey Committee showed that in 1950-51 the share of money lenders stood at as high as 68.6 per cent of the total rural credit and in 1975-76 their share declined to 43 per cent of the credit needs of the farmers.
Reduction in Food Crops: China produces more than 600 million tonnes of food grain, compared to India’s 251 million tonnes in FY2015, from a cropped area that is less than India’s and with a holding size that is almost half of India’s 1.15 hectares. China also liberated controls on agriculture pricing to a large extent. As a result, its agriculture grew by 7.1 per cent per annum. During 10th plan the growth rate of agriculture was only 2.4 per cent and further declined to 1.6 in the first 4 years of 12th Plan period.
Farmers Decreased - Farm Labourers increased - 2011 Census Report: In 2001 Census, there were 12,73,12,851 farmers. But, in 2011 Census they were reduced to 11,87,00,000 (24.6% of the total workforce of over 481 million) that is to say, reduced to 86,12,851 (8.6 million). In the same period, the number of agricultural labourers increased from 10,67,75,330 to 14,43,00,000 (1.4 million). Further, 2011 Census says, although the number of cultivators has been fluctuating, the percentage of cultivators has been coming down steadily. It has declined from nearly 50% in 1951 to 24% in 2011, which means the number of farmers has come down by half.  Decrease in the number of farmers is an indication of  agricultural crisis.

Unemployment in the Agricultural Sector: According to the National Sample Survey, the annual rate of growth of the employment in the rural areas was 2.07 per cent in 1984-1987, while it declined to a mere 0.67 per cent in 1993-94 to-2004-05, which corresponds to the period of liberalization. Again during the period1999-00 to 2009-10 employment in primary sector is negative (-0.13 per cent). Hence, it is not only the farmers but also the Dalits and tribals, who heavily depend on agriculture, became unemployed.

Agricultural Marketing: Agricultural marketing still continues to be in a bad shape in rural India. In the absence of sound marketing facilities, the farmers have to depend upon local traders and middlemen for the disposal of their farm produce which is sold at throw-away price. In most cases, these farmers are forced, under socio-economic conditions, to carry on distress sale of their produce locally only. In most of small villages, the farmers sell their produce to the money lender from whom they usually borrow money. According to an estimate 85 per cent of wheat and 75 per cent of oil seeds in Uttar Pradesh, 90 per cent of Jute in West Bengal, 70 per cent of oilseeds and 35 per cent of cotton in Punjab is sold by farmers in the village itself. Such a situation arises due to the inability of the poor farmers to wait for long after harvesting their crops.

Minimum Support Price: Most of the farmers in our country are poorly educated and unaware of MSP. Hence, they sell their at lower rate than MSP. Even though, some of farmers have knowledge regarding MSP they say that MSP is lower for most of the crops they produce and hence it will not fetch reasonable income to them.

Causes For Farmer Suicides in India and Telangana:

Economic, Social, Physical and Other Factors: Regarding, Prime Economic factor is the volatility in price rises as speculators or intermediaries in the commodities market determine the prices rather than the farmers and consumer. These speculators are short-term investors, buy and sell based on their expectations of future prices of the commodity. Hence, farmers are exploited by these intermediaries.  Social factors are education of children, marriage of daughters, performing traditional rituals like deaths etc. Physical factors like increase in the number of pesticides has a detrimental effect on the health of farmers. There is a global debate about the correlation between the Genetically Modified (GM) crops and suicide rates amongst farmers. Incidents of farmers drinking pesticides to commit suicide, against GM crops. Factors such as declining ground water level, falling levels of soil nutrients and climate change affect farmers and farming negatively. Additionally, agriculture in India and in most developing countries is still a physically stressful task as many of the processes within farming are still labour intensive. Regarding, Other factors, Lack of knowledge regarding MSP, Uncertainties arising from Unfavourable Weather Conditions, Impact of Pest Infestation or Unpredictable Animal Disease. In India, the insurance market has not developed enough to deal with such uncertainties. These factors together lead to high stress levels and without a support system, farmers tend to opt for options such as self-mutilation or suicide.

Farm population per hectare increased whereas per capita income has declined: A Study by the NCAER shows, average farm holding size is declining, at 1.6 hectares in 2010-11 compared to 1.23 ha in 2005-06 and 2.26 ha in 1970-71. The number of marginal and small holdings (2 ha and less) shows a continuous increase, whereas medium and large holdings (4 ha and above) show a steady downtrend. As the land holding size is decreasing and farm population per hectare is increasing, per capita farm income will decline. The result is insufficient income to meet the family needs and capital requirement for agriculture, hence these small farmers are forced to take debts. In the event of failure to repay debts, they are committing suicides.

Decline in farm land due to urbanization and SEZs: According to NRCB, 72% of farmers who commit suicides have less than 2 hectares of land. Allotting agricultural lands as SEZs to industrialists, which in turn reduces the cultivable land. The examples of Nandigram in West Bengal and Rajasthan (“Arre arre chor aaya re…SEZ layare!” So goes rallying cry) may be cited, where farmers resisted against governments. The government may allot uncultivable lands (Barren lands) as SEZs to industrialists, but not agricultural lands.

Bankruptcy/indebtedness and family problems: According to NCRB for 2014, the main reason behind farmer suicide is bankruptcy/indebtedness and family problems which claimed 1,163 and 1,135 farmer’s lives respectively. As per NCRB data, “bankruptcy and indebtedness” witnessed the sharpest spike in 2015, registering an almost three-fold increase (3,097) as compared to 2014 (1,163).

Failure of Bore Wells: Among several reasons for farm suicides in India, failure of bore wells is one of main reasons in dry land farming areas, especially in states like Telangana where agriculture is dependent mostly on bore wells due to lack of sufficient irrigation facilities. In Telangana there are many farmers who dug up10 to 12 bore wells for search of water. Due to lack of institutional credit facilities for digging bore wells, farmers are forced to borrow loans from private money lenders at exorbitant interest rates, in the event of failure to repay loans farmers are committing suicides.

Money Lenders: Usually local money lenders are portrayed as the villains in India’s farmer-suicides narrative, but the government data 2015 shows that 80 per cent of farmers suicides are due to bankruptcy or due to taking loans from banks and registered microfinance institutions. According to NCRB farmer-suicides data, of the over 3,000 farmers who committed suicides across the country in 2015 due to debt and bankruptcy, 2,474 had taken loans from banks or microfinance institutions. Among states, Maharashtra (1,293) reported the maximum number of suicides due to “indebtedness”, followed by Karnataka (946) and Telangana (632). With 131 deaths, Telangana reported the highest number of suicides by farmers who took loans from moneylenders, with 131 deaths, followed by Karnataka (113).

Bad monsoons adversely impact the produce: Indian economy gains due to good Monsoon rains in the country and has positive effect on crops . On the other hand, weak Monsoon rains result in crop failure which affects the economy in a negative manner due to lower production, leading to lower income and  resulting in farmers suicides. The lack of monsoon rains is spelling doom for Telangana on three fronts: First, a drastic drop in paddy cultivation is set to trigger a massive shortage in rice production; second, with their crops more or less destroyed and the prospect of rains in the near future bleak, farmers are resorting to suicides.

Irregular Income of Farmers: There is no regular income for farmers, especially for small farmers. Due to irregular income of farmers, there is surge in suicides, especially of small farmers. In Maharashtra, due to irregular income of agriculture, young bride grooms are not finding their brides.

Some Other Reasons: Farm-related issues like crop failure forced 769 farmers to end their lives in Maharashtra, followed by 363 in Telangana, 153 in Andhra Pradesh and 122 in Karnataka. Family problems (933) and illness (842) were other top reasons for suicides among farmers in 2015, according to NCRB data. Rising input costs, lack of remunerative prices both at the government procurement level and private sector purchases and lack of extension services. Poor Irrigation facilities, Droughts, Absence of credit facilities, Worsened quality of soil due to excessive use of fertilizers, Alcohol addiction and Lack of skills to opt for alternate when farming seems non profitable are some are the reasons behind an increase in incidents of farmers' suicides.

Remedial Measures and Suggestions:

Attract Youth: According to eminent Agricultural Scientist M. S. Swaminathan, Indian agriculture must become profitable to boost farmers' income and attract youth to the farm sector. He also advised for including pulses under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to deal with the issue of deficiency of protein and micro-nutrients. He said the country should move from “Food Security for All” to "Nutritional Security for All".

Pro-active and Prompt Responses: Agriculture in India is largely rain fed and therefore, heavily relies on nature. Factors like excessive monsoon or deficient rainfall, extremely hot and dry weather. Droughts have direct effect on the performance of the agriculture. While these risks can never be entirely eliminated, they can be reasonably addressed through pro-active and prompt responses.

Consolidation of Holdings: The only answer to this ticklish problem is the consolidation of holdings which means the reallocation of holdings which are fragmented, the creation of farms which comprise only one or a few parcels in place of multitude of patches formerly in the possession of each peasant. But unfortunately, this plan has not succeeded much. Although legislation for consolidation of holdings has been enacted by almost all the states, it has been implemented only in Punjab, Haryana and in some parts of Uttar Pradesh. Consolidation of about 45 million holdings has been done till 1990-91 in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. The other solution to this problem is cooperative farming in which the farmers pool their resources and share the profit.

Sustainable Agriculture: There should be a comprehensive mission for increasing diverse cropping systems, ensuring irrigation facilities and strengthening livestock-based livelihood in the rain fed areas, which constitute about 60% of the total cultivated areas in the country.

Competitiveness of Farmers- It is imperative to raise the agricultural competitiveness among small holding farmers. Productivity improvement to increase the marketable surplus must be linked to assured and remunerative marketing opportunities. Government must support farmers in every aspect to increase their productivity, marketing their produce and eliminate middle men in this era of globalization to withstand in the global competition.

Extending Irrigation Facilities: Irrigation facilities should be extended by by linking all the rivers in India, while doing so, care must be taken to safeguard against ill effects of over irrigation especially in areas irrigated by canals. Large tracts in Punjab and Haryana have been rendered useless (areas affected by salinity, alkalinity and water-logging), due to faulty irrigation. In the Indira Gandhi Canal command area also intensive irrigation has led to sharp rise in sub-soil water level, leading to water-logging, soil salinity and alkalinity.

Neglect by the government: Government should control over the rate of interest. Punishment to the traders and moneylenders should be meted out charging higher rate of interest.
Mechanization of Agriculture: There is urgent need to mechanize our agricultural operations so that wastage of labour force is avoided and farming is made convenient and efficient. Agricultural implements and machinery are a crucial input for efficient and timely agricultural operations, facilitating multiple cropping and thereby increasing production. Some progress has been made for mechanizing agriculture in India after Independence. Need for mechanization was specially felt with the advent of Green Revolution in 1960s. Strategies and programmes have been directed towards replacement of traditional and inefficient implements by improved ones, enabling the farmer to own tractors, power tillers, harvesters and other machines. Strenuous efforts are to be made to encourage the farmers to adopt technically advanced agricultural equipments in order to carry farm operations timely and precisely and to economize the agricultural production process.

Measures for Soil Erosion: Large tracts of fertile land suffer from soil erosion by wind and water. This area must be properly treated and restored to its original fertility.

Excessive Use of Chemical Fertilizers for long time without caring much for replenishing  has led to depletion and exhaustion of soils resulting in their low productivity. Hence, suitable measures should be taken to restore the fertility loss of agricultural lands.

Need for Regulated Markets: In order to save the farmer from the clutches of the money lenders and the middle men, the government has come out with regulated markets. These markets generally introduce a system of competitive buying, help in eradicating malpractices, ensure the use of standardized weights and measures and evolve suitable machinery for settlement of disputes thereby ensuring that the pro­ducers are not subjected to exploitation and receive remunerative prices.

Scientific Storage Facilities: Scientific storage facilities are very essential to avoid losses and to benefit the farmers and the consumers alike. In Telangana, farmers are encouraged to use solar cold storage facilities.

Approach Roads: There is a need for well connected approach roads for farmers to sell their produce in the regulated markets.

Credit facilities: Credit facilities should be easily made available to the farmers, especially since the input cost of agriculture has gone up. The government should seriously think of providing loans to farmers at low rate of interest by banks and other financial institutions. In fact, the M.S. Swaminathan Commission for Agriculture has recommended a low rate of four per cent interest to the farmers.

Increase in investment & Expenditure in Agriculture Sector by Government: The government should increase its investment and expenditure in the agriculture sector. One reason for the agricultural stagnation is low government expenditure. Investment in agriculture and its allied sectors, including irrigation, transport, communication and farm research, should be significantly increased, and the government should aim at integrated development of the rural areas. Effective implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme can also become a means of revival of the rural economy as agriculture is already overcrowded.

Support Price: According to the Swaminathan Commission, unless agriculture is made a profitable enterprise, its present crisis cannot be solved. The Commission has suggested 50 per cent more of the total production cost as supportive price for food grains. So, there is a need for periodic revision of the procurement prices for farm produce. This will help the farmers to meet the increasing expenses for farm inputs and ensure at least remunerative income.

Revise SEZ Policy: Governments are more interested in pleasing the corporate sector (e.g., SEZ policy) rather than helping agriculture sector which bears 50% of the burden, while the European Union is considering the release of additional land for agriculture-set aside under 1992 regulation to control excess capacity. The government should not acquire fertile agricultural land for SEZs and revise the policy on Special Economic Zones as it goes against the interest of farmers and the agricultural sector. The recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission not to acquire land suitable for agriculture for non-agricultural purposes, to give adequate compensation for the acquired land and to distribute surplus land to the landless farmers should be seriously taken into account in reframing the SEZs Policy.

Implementation of Land Reforms: According to Amartya Sen, the Nobel Laureate, though the economic growth rate of India is impressive, India cannot play a significant role in the global economic scenario unless it completes land reforms. Steps should be taken to implement land reforms which were not implemented in most States.

Crop Insurance: Despite having approximately 60 per cent of the gross cropped area rain fed, agricultural insurance mechanism in India is very weak. In India, the net sown area is around 140 million hectare and the gross cropped area hovers between 190-200 million hectare, but insured area is only 15 million hectare. However, the US and China are the world’s biggest crop insurers. In the US, the state supports almost 70 per cent of premiums paid by farmers. In China, the state used to support 50-65 per cent of premiums, which was raised to almost 80 per cent in 2013.

Revival of Agricultural Policy: (a) To achieve 4% growth and equity in agriculture, the supply and demand side constraints have to be removed. The support systems have to be tuned to improve productivity and incomes of farmers with emphasis on small and marginal farmers and dry land areas. (b) Agriculture policies have to keep in mind increasing risk and uncertainty due to liberalization, gender sensitive as the share of women is increasing and on cost of production. (c) Infrastructure including irrigation, natural resource management, research and extension, inputs including credit, diversification by maintaining food security,  marketing, regional planning, climate change measures have to be focused for higher agriculture growth.
Subsidies: Developed countries offer subsidies to their farmers and reluctant to cut them. But, at the same, they argue to cut subsidies to farmers in developing countries like us. Hence, India should stress on the implementation of Uruguay round agreements to reduce subsidies and other distortions caused by policies pursued by developed counties. 

Demand Side Issues: (a) Adequate insurance is needed for those carrying out diversification with in agriculture or from agriculture to non- agriculture. (b) Social security should be provided for the unorganized workers also. Loans may be provided to small farmers for side business to organize small businesses like kirana as security against crop failures due to several reasons.
Rural Non-Farm Sector: The ultimate solution for reduction on land is to improve rural non-farm sector and planned urbanization. Chinese experience shows that Globalization with better initial conditions has increased employment and incomes for workers which in turn was due to rural diversification.   
Political Economy of Agriculture: There is a feeling that governments (Central and State) promise a lot for agriculture without much allocations and implementation. Hence, the governments should come up to the expectations of farmers.
Compensation should be given to all those farmers’ who have suffered even one-third loss,  by relaxing the existing criterion of minimum damage of at least 50 per cent.

Direct Cash Transfer- We should reorient food and fertilizer subsidies by moving to cash transfers to the identified beneficiaries or directly supplying them for free of cost. This will help in reducing leakages and will also help in curbing corruption and will make process more transparent. Chief Minister K. Chandra Shekar Rao announced that about 55 lakh farmers in Telangana will get fertilizers free of cost from the next financial year (2018-19). The government will deposit money directly into the bank accounts of farmers in the last week of May well ahead of the 2018 kharif season. Each farmer is likely to get about Rs. 4,000/acre

Open Markets - Farmers must have the freedom to sell their produce to anyone, anywhere. Taxes, levies and commissions on agricultural commodities across states need to be rationalized to less than 4 per cent, currently it is ranging from less than 2 per cent in Gujarat to about 14.5 per cent in Punjab. It is advised  to encourage the farmers to sell their produce in the similar way like “Rythu Bazars” i.e. directly selling to the consumers or all the medium and small farmers should sell their produce by establishing cooperative markets themselves in order to eliminate “middle men”.

Special Agriculture Zones (SAZs) - SAZs should be designed to conserve prime farm land so that we do not revert to a ship-to-mouth existence.

Mandatory Rainwater Harvesting in all farms for crop-life-saving irrigation if there is a prolonged dry spell. Wherever farms are small, community rainwater harvesting can be promoted. Equity in water-sharing is essential for cooperation in water-saving. Some method of community management, like a pani panchayat (Pani Panchayat is a voluntary activity of a group of farmers engaged in the collective management (harvesting and distribution) of surface water and groundwater (wells and percolation tanks), will be useful.
·        Increasing Afforestation, reforestation and stopping deforestation to increase ground water level and rain fall for irrigation.
·        Encouraging the farmers to use natural manures instead of chemical fertilizers.
·        There should be State level Agricultural Commissions in addition to a National Agricultural Commission and Governments must include social scientists also in these committees to research and evaluate the social impact on our farmers so that solutions may be found for many agricultural problems including farmers suicides.
·        Seed Banks: In case there is a prolonged dry spell between rains, seedlings may wither. Therefore, seed banks with alternative short-duration crops should be built up and the choice of alternative crops could be according to both home needs and market demand.
·        Contingency plans to adapt to different weather probabilities should be prepared jointly by agriculture universities and farmers’ associations. Women farmers in particular should be consulted. Unless such joint work is promoted, the technical advice may remain on paper.
·        Our grain reserve is dwindling and climate change is posing unforeseen threats. Therefore, codes of coping with weather probabilities like drought, flood and good weather should be prepared jointly by scientists and farmers. Eternal vigilance is the price of stable agriculture and sustainable food security. This will call for an inter-disciplinary monsoon management strategy.

To Tackle the Problem of Farmer’s Suicides:
·        Provide affordable health insurance and revitalize primary healthcare centres. The National Rural Health Mission should be extended to suicide hotspot locations on priority basis.
·        Set up State level Farmers' Commission with representation of farmers for ensuring dynamic government response to farmers' problems.

·        Restructure microfinance policies to serve as Livelihood Finance, i.e. credit coupled with support services in the areas of technology, management and markets.

·        Cover all crops by crop insurance with the village and not block as the unit for assessment. Private Sector insurance agencies can be invited to bid for the share of insurance at the lowest premium and fastest settlement of claims at the block level, without any plot-to-plot assessment. Farmers’ accounts can be linked to pixel-based mapping of their fields and satellites can be used, with agronomic experts to gauge the extent of damages.
·        Provide for a Social Security net with provision for old age support and health insurance.

·        Promote aquifer recharge and rain water conservation. Decentralise water use planning and every village should aim at Jal Swaraj with Gram Sabhas serving as Pani Panchayats.

·        Ensure availability of quality seed and other inputs at affordable costs and at the right time and place.

·        Recommend low risk and low cost technologies which can help to provide maximum income to farmers because they cannot cope with the shock of crop failure, particularly those associated with high cost technologies like Bt cotton.

·        Need for focused Market Intervention Schemes (MIS) in the case of life-saving crops such as cumin in arid areas. Have a Price Stabilisation Fund in place to protect the farmers from price fluctuations.
·        Need swift action on import duties to protect farmers from international price.

·        Set up Village Knowledge Centres (VKCs) or Gyan Chaupals in the farmers' distress hotspots. These can provide dynamic and demand driven information on all aspects of agricultural and non-farm livelihoods and also serve as guidance centres.

·        Public awareness campaigns to make people identify early signs of suicidal behavior.

To Improve Competitiveness of Farmers:
·        Promotion of commodity-based farmers' organisations such as Small Cotton Farmers' Estates to combine decentralised production with centralised services such as post-harvest management, value addition and marketing, for leveraging institutional support and facilitating direct farmer-consumer linkage.

·        Improvement in implementation of Minimum Support Price (MSP). Arrangements for MSP need to be put in place for crops other than paddy and wheat. Also, millets and other nutritious cereals should be permanently included in the PDS.

·        Central/State/Local Governments should give advice to farmers regarding various crops suited to their relevant areas and provide information about agricultural marketing, storage and processing of agriculture produce need to shift to one that promotes grading, branding, packaging and development of domestic and international markets for local produce, and move towards a Single Indian Market.

·        MSP should be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production.

Challenges/Goals:

·        To achieve 4% growth in agriculture and raise incomes of the farmers.
·        Ensuring that agricultural growth responds to food security needs
·        sustainability of agriculture by focusing on environmental concerns.  
·        Raising agricultural productivity per unit of land
·        Reducing rural poverty through a socially inclusive strategy that comprises both agriculture as well as non-farm employment
To fulfill these challenges/Goals, the following actions are required:
(1). Price Policy; (2). Investment in infrastructure & Subsidies; (3) Land and Water Management including land issues; (4) Inputs including agricultural credit and technology; (5) Domestic and International trade Reforms; (6) Diversification, marketing and rural non-farm sector; (7). Sharing growth is also important. Ere one has to concentrate on small and marginal farmers, lagging regions and women. Institutions are needed in all these aspects.

Government Policies:

·        Last year budget 2016–17, planned several steps for the sustainable development of agriculture.  It proposed a slew of measures to improve agriculture and increase farmers’ welfare such as 2.85 million hectares to be brought under irrigation, Rs 287,000 crore grant in aid to be given to Gram Panchayats and municipalities and 100 per cent village electrification targeted by May 01, 2018.
·        The Government of India recognizes the importance of micro irrigation, watershed development and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana’; thus, it allocated a sum of Rs 5,300 crore for it. It urged the states to focus on this key sector.
·        The state governments are compelled to allocate adequate funds to develop the agriculture sector, take measures to achieve the targeted agricultural growth rate and address the problems of farmers.
·        To improve soil fertility on a sustainable basis through the soil health card scheme.
·        Other steps include improved access to irrigation through ‘Pradhanmantri Gram Sinchai Yojana’, enhanced water efficiency through `Per Drop More Crop’.
·        Continued support to MGNREGA
·        The creation of a unified national agriculture market to boost the incomes of farmers.
·        To raise the existing norms of compensation by a 50 per cent. Existing compensation amount is Rs 9,000 per hectare for irrigated crop, Rs 4,500 per ha for un-irrigated crop and Rs 12,000 per ha for perennial crop.
        
Future of  Agriculture in India: The prospects for Indian agriculture are good. The agriculture sector in India is expected to generate better momentum in the next few years due to increased investments in agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, warehousing and cold storage. Factors such as reduced transaction costs and time, improved port gate management and better fiscal incentives would contribute to the sector’s growth. And also, the growing use of genetically modified crops will likely improve the yield for Indian farmers. Demand will grow fast and if we create the correct incentive and organization systems the Indian farmer will not fail us as he has responded well in the past when our policies were supportive.
Conclusion: Indian farmers are very hard working. The only answer to the present agricultural crisis and farmers suicides is that they should be shown the right path and extended help from all the quarters i.e. from Government, community and all middle men must removed. The next of stage of reforms in agriculture has to focus on developing institutions for better delivery systems. Agriculture can be ignored at our own peril. If we want inclusive growth, both Central and State Governments have to focus on agriculture sector. Let us hope that Government has the political will to implement the policies effectively and help the farmers without testing their patience. The words of Dr M.S. Swaminathan are relevant here: “In a country where 50 per cent of people depend on agriculture for their livelihood, it is better to become an agricultural force based on food security and nutritional security rather than a nuclear force.”
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                                                                         APPENDIX

Table : Indian Agriculture in the Post – Globalization (1991 Onwards) Compared With Other Sectors:

                                               1991
                                             2016
Sector
Share of GDP (%)
(2004-05 Prices)
Distribution of working population (%)
Sector
Share of GDP (%)
(2004-05 Prices)
Distribution of working population (%)
Agriculture & Allied
28.54
67.5
Agriculture & Allied
16.1
49.0
Industry
27.33
11.7
Industry
29.5
20.0
Services
43.91
20.4
Services
54.4 (2015 est.)
31.0 (2012 est.)
Source: Statistical Outline of India 2009-10.(Tata Services Ltd.) and India Economy Profile 2016    (index mundi)
Table: Average GDP Growth Rates—Overall and in Agriculture in India:
(% per period (Years) at 1999–2000 Price and 2004-05 prices for 11th plan &  12th Plan)

Average GDP Growth Rates—Overall and in Agriculture in India (% per period (Years) at 1999–2000 Price and 2004-05 prices for eleventh plan) Period
Total Economy
    Agriculture
          &
  Allied Sectors
Pre - Green Revolution:   1951-52 to 1967-68
3.69
        2.54
Green Revolution Period:1968-69 to 1980-81
3.52
        2.44
Technology Dissemination Period:1981-82 to1990-91
5.40
        3.52
Early Reform Period:  1991-92 to 1996-97
5.69
        3.66
Ninth Plan Period:       1997-98 to 2001-02

5.52
        2.50
Tenth Plan Period :      2002-03 to 2006-07

7.77
        2.47
Eleventh Plan Period : 2007-08 to 2011-12

8.40
        4.10
Twelfth Plan Period:    2012-13 to 2012-17 (Expected)
                                                        2015-16
 (As on 6/01/2017) CSO Forecast: 2016-17
                                  Estimates      2017-18 (Q1)
7.90
7.60
7.10
5.70
        1.60
        1.2
        4.1
        2.3

Source: Economic Survey, 2014 – 15 and Planning Commission of India
Table: Comparison of Countries Regarding Subsidies to Agriculture
Country
Subsidy per Hectare
Percentage of population depending on Agriculture
USA
$32
5
Japan
$35
4
China
$30
24
India
$14
59

Source: WTO Reports