India is facing an unprecedented crop shortage and is also reeling from an alarming surge in farmers’ suicides.
As the crisis deepens, the country’s agricultural sector is facing its worst crop-placing crisis in decades, according to a new report.
The Agricultural Pollution Control Board (APCB) has said it is unable to respond to all of the countrys demand for food, as there is no way to prevent farmers from self-farming.
As many as 6.5 million hectares of farmland have been damaged by the drought, according a report from the APCB.
In 2017-18, nearly 2 million farmers committed suicide, nearly 80 per cent of them in Maharashtra and Odisha.
The APCB’s latest report said that, out of a total of 8.9 million hectares, the number of suicides is projected to be around 1.6 million by 2022.
The report said there are three main reasons for farmers’ desperation.
“The first is the fact that farmers have been faced with the choice between purchasing food from the markets or selling their produce at the farmers’ market,” the report said.
“In the latter case, they are required to pay the polluting farm machinery which is not feasible given the high cost of maintenance.”
The second reason is the loss of crop production in the last three years, as farmers are losing an average of 1.5 kg of wheat per hectare due to the drought and crop failure.
“While the crop failure rates are not high in the rural areas, they have increased in the urban areas due to overharvesting and crop degradation,” it said.
The third reason is farmers’ reluctance to sell their produce.
“They are concerned about the high price tag and the uncertainty that will accompany the purchase of a large quantity of wheat from the market.
They also face the prospect of the loss in revenue as they are not earning any income from the crop,” it added.
In a report published by the National Sample Survey Organisation, the survey panel, the APBC said it has received over 3.6 lakh applications for agricultural land in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu from farmers and their families.
The report said, “A total of 18.3 per cent (of the 1.7 lakh hectares) were allocated for cultivation of crops, with more than 1.2 million hectares in the state allotted for agriculture, which includes 1.3 million hectares allotted for cultivation.”
The APBC has recorded a total crop loss of Rs1,848 crore in the current fiscal, which is equivalent to 5.2 per cent per annum.
“However, due to severe weather, the annual loss is estimated to be close to Rs6,000 crore,” it observed.
The farmers’ grievances, the report further said, include: the lack of timely crop returns, the high prices paid for wheat and other commodities, lack of compensation for losses incurred due to crop failures, lack for payment of the crop losses to farmers, lack to recover the costs of crop management and loss of revenue from sale of crops.
The APCB said it would investigate the complaint made by farmers against the polluter and would report its findings in due course.
“We have identified and recorded at least 18,200 cases of farmers’ suicide in the period 2016-17 to 2021-22, the highest number in our history,” the agency said.
The agency has also registered over 10,000 complaints, it said, adding that the number is likely to grow.