India’s Bread Basket, Punjab, known for its success in agriculture, is becoming home to farmer’s suicide cases.
The agrarian crisis has resulted in rising cost of production, decelerating income & ever-increasing debt for farmers in the region.
According to agricultural experts, small farmers are working under severe economic constraints with low earnings & debt.
The Punjab farming sector is also suffering from falling productivity & low profitability. In the past, 28% of farmers entered the labour market.
The need of the hour, according to experts, was to make small farming viable through massive public investment in agriculture.
According to a recent study conducted in the region, 88% of farmers had an average debt of INR 218,092 per household. Marginal farmers at INR 1,70,184 followed by small farmers at Rs. 1,04,155 while for other farmers at INR. 44,069.
80% of the farmers were marginal to small, out of the 3,507 farmers who committed suicide in Punjab between 2000 & 2011.
These farmers had an average debt of INR. 2,35,000 per household earned only INR 30,420 a year.
Many farmers died in a recent protest over new farm bill where farmers in the state are now demanding the Punjab government to raise the compensation paid to the kin of the deceased farmers.
Agricultural issues in Punjab consist of cropping practices, Pricing of agricultural products where the interventions in MSP & procurement policies have had adverse effects for the farmers. The state also uses 18% of the total pesticide usage in India in 1.5% of its land area. Thus, pesticide usage is another problem.
While Climate change in recent times also impacts agriculture majorly in a country where a lot of dependencies is on climate, and poor conditions can affect the soil quality.
Maqboolpura, a village in Punjab is India’s village of widows owing to the deaths of more than 400 people, (most of them alleged addicts) since 1999. Whether it's Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Taran, Taaran or towns and villages close to the India-Pakistan border, drugs have become a bane for these areas.
On top of all these problems, the cases of farmer’s suicide & protests are depleting the value system the state of Punjab always had in the past.