Over 16,000 Indian farmers commit suicide
December 31, 2017 | 2:42 PM
by Times TV

Punjab: More than 16,000 farmers have committed suicide in India's northern Punjab state over the last 16 years, a survey conducted by three national universities revealed on Saturday.

Unable to deal with the pressures of failed crops and mounting debt, the most common reason cited for this staggering number of suicides is the inability to repay loans which farmers take out for seeds and fertilisers. More than half of India's farming households are in debt. And despite write-offs by the government, they still owe hundreds of millions of rupees to banks and moneylenders.

Rajmat Kaur, a family member of a farmer who committed suicide, said: "In this village, 10-12 suicides have taken place. The government has provided no assistance. There was debt on their heads. No one was considered for a waiver."

Punjab has the highest crop productivity and the largest irrigated area among the states, but this also puts pressure on small and marginal farmers. Dr. Sukhpal Singh, Head of Department of Economics and Sociology at Punjab Agricultural University, said: "There have been more than 16,000 suicides from 2000 to 2016. That's an average of almost 1,000 suicides every year."

In 2015 alone, nearly 13,000 farmers took their own lives. More than half of them were due to bankruptcy or other farm-related debt. The vast majority of victims in those cases were those workers whose plots were smaller than five acres.

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