As Debt Drives Punjab farmers to Death, Loan Waiver Demand Sparks Debate
What is the Issue?
- A recent study on farmers’ suicide in Punjab, by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has revealed that in six districts of the State over 9,291 farmers committed suicide between 2000 and 2018 and nearly 88% of the suicide cases were due to farm-related debts.
What is the demand?
- The farmers are demanding complete farm loan debt waiver from the Government.
What are the concerns?
- Full waiver on farm loans may provide an immediate respite, however it still fails to address the key issues regarding the lack of sustainability and profitability in agriculture.
- This issue happening in Punjab, which is one the states which benefited greatly during Green Revolution shows the structural issues plaguing agriculture in India.
Some of these Structural issues are
- Due to MSP the cultivation in India is heavily skewed towards cereals which reduce the market price of these crops.
- People still majorly depend on rainfall for agriculture and due to climate change monsoon is becoming more and more unpredictable.
- The unscientific use of chemical fertilizers due to illogical subsidisation schemes have led to increased soil salination.
- The lack of mechanisation and land fragmentation has reduced the overall productivity of a single famer.
- Politically motivated loan waivers have not only increased fiscal deficit but also have made banks reluctant to give out agricultural loans.
- The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) devised cultivation methods are often ignored in the name of traditions.
What can be done?
- MSP should apply to all crops, and it should be based on the market prices to promote competition.
- The farmers should be educated about advanced agricultural practices and need constant support from experts to choose most efficient methods of cultivation.
- Loan waivers can be given for immediate relief, but they must not become a common occurrence.
Source The Hindu
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