When it comes to Indian Agriculture, one thing that is significantly looked upon is farmer suicides. I really don’t want to touch upon the statistics in detail as you can find them easily anywhere in the internet, through Wikipedia or NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau of India). But, just to give a sense of severity, Since 1995 more than 270,000 farmers died in India and There was one death every 30 minutes. The fact that the Government of India, denied the farmer suicides until the media focused on the issue shows the commitment of Govt. in noticing the Farmer suicides.
When it comes to the reasons, a significant number of people linking farmers suicides to the GM crops. The fact that the farmer suicides started in the mid 90’s and the GM was first introduced in 2002 and and for those 7 years there were no Genetically modified crops in India. I’m not saying that, no one committed suicide because of Bt Cotton, which was a GM. But, the reason being as similar as the other reasons.
Over 80% of the farmland relies on rains in India. The insufficient or improper rainfall causes crop failure, which is a common factor to be considered. It is also to be noted that the Suicide rate increased in those areas.
Influence of Genetically modified crops (GM):
When it comes to the GM cotton, Monsanto released Bt cotton seeds calling them as “Magic Seeds”, which costed 10 times more than normal variety, flooded the Indian agricultural market, monopolizing the market.
(GMOs were introduced in India in 2002 by Monsanto after a Trade agreement between Government of India and International Monitory Fund, headquartered are in Washington, D.C., United States. It was then the international companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Corgill entered India in a large scale.)
In 2005, the Tata Institute was asked to submit a report on this by High Court of Maharastra and after its study, the institute reported, “Govt. apathy, the absence of a safety net for farmers, lack of access of Information related to agriculture are the chief causes for the desperate conditions for the farmers in the state.”
ICAR submitted a report saying, from 2007-12, the cost of Cotton cultivation jumped, the pesticide costs associated with that also rising and the crop yield is reduced. And In 2012, for the first time, ICAR and CICR submitted a report linking GM to the suicides, which resulted in Supreme court suspending all the field trials of transgenic crops for a period of 10 years.
It is to be noted that India was and is fastly moving towards urbanization and industrialization, which made and which IS making, government and Society not worried about whats happening in the Rural India. There was no counselling given for those poor farmers about how to survive in the fast transforming economy for whom the agriculture was the only option.
As Mark Henick was saying in TEDx talks, People commit suicides, because for them their future looks, CONSTRICTED, DARKENED AND COLLAPSED. And they feel, not good enough and not smart enough to survive in the society. Which we can relate to what happened with those farmers.
So, What is actually responsible for this?
1. Wasn’t the society that accepted a bank giving loan with 7% interest to buy a Mercedes-Benz and 12-14% for a farmer buying a tractor for agriculture???? (“Benz makes a history as Aurangabad gets 150 Mercedes cars at one go”- The Indian Express, Oct 15, 2010 AND “Of luxury cars and lowly tractors”– The Hindu, Dec 27, 2010).
2. Wasn’t the Government which framed committees repeatedly until it gets the report it wanted to put in records? ( The Maharastra Govt., where one of the highest suicide rate recorded had 13 committees being formed until it accepted the 13th committee report it wanted to put in record, just to give a sense of height of its craziness, in the may of 2010, there were three official estimates of farm suicides in the Vidarbha region varied by 5,500 percent. What was that?)