Monday, 13 July 2020

Farmers’ Suicide In Odisha; The Ground Reality

Updated: April 5, 2017 12:13 pm

The farmers of Odisha  are reeling  under  sheer destitution due to  faulty agricultural policy  of the state government,  farmers suicide  has become a disquieting facet  in the state. As per  the official information,  1895  farmers  have committed suicide  in the state within  last ten years.  The state government  is boasting  that  it has taken up a number of golden  projects  for the benefits of the farmers. But the reality is  far away.  While  the number of farmers’ suicide in the state continues to rise,  the attempt  to  handle such incidents   has become tardy. The ruling party  BJD leaders  along with state Agriculture Minister Pradip Maharathi  are  desribing the farmers’ suicide cases as those  that have been caused  on account of reasons  not connected with  agriculture. It is ridiculous that  BJD leaders are  attributing the reason of  such suicides  to  family dispute, depression and other social causes.

Layout 1On February 28, a farmer of Bargarh District  namely Hadu  alias Khinu Bagarti (54) committed  suicide. This incident occurred during the session   of the State Assembly. The  Agriculture Minister  replied in the Assembly  that  the cause of the suicide  is not connected with agriculture activity rather it is connected with  other social  and family matters, for which  the farmer committed suicide. The Members of Opposition  vehemently opposed  this  ridiculous statement of the Minister.  Due to such strong protest  by the Opposition and  other pressure groups,  State Agriculture Minister Pradip Maharathi has given a clarification on the incident thus : “It is unfortunate that  a farmer has died. It needs to be ascertained how and why. I will ask Bargarh Collector to conduct a fresh probe.”

This statement of the Minister is  very disturbing. It shows that  there was an initial probe into the matter, which happens to be defective one for which a fresh probe is needed.  It is not the single case  where  the farmers’ suicide cases, are being manipulated  in order to  save  the reputation of the  political babus. The sources say the real  reason  for  suicide by Bargarh farmer  Hadu  Bagarti is crop failure due to lack of irrigation and burden of loan. This unfortunate farmer is the resident of village Kelapali of Chakarakala Grama Panchayat under Bargarh district.  He sustained  a huge  financial loss  last year  in agriculture,  for which  he planned to recover it  through  growing paddy crop  in  three acres of land  this year.  But  it is the irony  of his fate that water was not made available  to him for growing paddy crop coupled with alarming power cuts. He informed  about these difficulties  to the government officials many times.  But  the officials did not  take it seriously, and the deceased Bagarti lost his crop,  for which he had no way out  than committ suicide, which may perhaps was the only way  to save her family  from financial devastation. The state government is trying to conceal this  fact. The data,  which is available  regarding  farmers’ suicide in the state  is quite disturbing.

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The state government is saying that  the farmers of the state are in  a better position  in comparison with  the past 20 years. But   the information given by  the State Agriculture Minister in the Assembly contradicts The government’s own stand on this issue. The Minister  stated that  a farmer’s family of the state  earns  per capita income  of Rs.1407 per month  from agriculture. If  it is to be believed, then it can be concluded that every farmer family  comes under  BPL category and  their standard of living is bound to be  poverty stricken. Experts  attribute this scenario  to  lack of vision  and practical execution of  different  central schemes  in the state.  The agricultural marketing system  has completely failed in the State. The Regulated Market Committees are mostly  in paralysed condition due to  political turbulences. Sources say  the crop insurance  scheme of the state government  has completely failed  in many areas. The farmers who lost  their crop in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the Districts of Jajpur, Kendrapara, Sambalpur, Koraput, Ganjam are yet to receive  crop insurance money. The government has not taken any  prompt steps towards  settlement of crop insurance claims,  for which  a number of  farmers’ organisations  have approached  the High Court and in some case  the High Court has given  directions to the state government to settle crop insurance claim as early as possible. Another practical problem   worth mentioning here is the nature of survey conducted by the state government  to ascertain  loss of crop. The Odisha Relief Code  under proviso 28 makes a specific provision for conduct of  fair enquiry  regarding loss of crop etc.  In most of the areas, due to lack of administrative vigilance, these procedures  are not being followed,  for which  the farmers are not getting  their dues.

In the present situation, it is quite disturbing that the farmers of South & Western Odisha  are being forced to  sale tamato at Re 1 or 50 paise per kg. Middle-men  are purchasing  the same  and  it is being sold in city markets  at Rs.15  to  20 per kg. Similarly,   the farmer’s  are  being  forced  to sale  potato  at Rs. 3 to 4 per kg to the middle-men which is being sold in the city market at Rs.10 to 12 per kg.  The profit  earned  by the middle-men  and shopkeepers  does not  encourage nor enrich  the farmers. The state government has completely failed to control the situation. This is one of the most alarming  reason for farmers’ suicide in the state.

By Debasis Tripathy

from Bhubaneswar

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