Pointing at alarmingly rising farmers’ suicides across the country in the last three years, Maruti Manpade, State president of Karnataka Pratha Raitha Sangha (KPRS), alleged that intense implementation of liberalisation policies by the Union government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had intensified the agrarian crisis.
Addressing a media conference here on Saturday, he said that as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 11,772 farmers committed suicide in 2013-14, 12,360 in 2014-15 and 12,602 in 2015-16. “The rise in farmers’ suicides under the BJP government is 26% annually as compared to the previous United Progressive Alliance government. Essentially, economic policies of both Congress and BJP were same – pro-corporate class and anti-people. Under the BJP government, the economic liberalisation gathered a new momentum pushing the farm sector into a deeper crisis.”
Dismissing claims by the Union government of increased lending to the farm sector, Mr. Manpade said the marginal increase in lending was indeed helping agri-business and not the actual cultivators. “It is true that farm lending has marginally increased. But, it is helping only big corporate houses involved in manufacturing of farm equipment such as tractors and other machinery and farm inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. A agri-business company can easily borrow Rs. 1 crore from banks. But, it is very difficult for a small farmer to borrow Rs. 1 lakh. We therefore cannot say that that increase in lending to farm sector is helping actual farmers,” he said.
Mr. Manpade criticised the Union government for taking Israel as its role model in agriculture. “Israel is a small country with less than 1 crore population. Its agriculture is basically technology-driven. Ours is a country with 125 crore population and majority are dependent on the farm sector. We need sustainable agriculture which is manpower-driven and not technology-driven.”
Mr. Manpade announced that the All India Kisan Sabha, a broad conglomerate of farmers’ organisation to which his organisation was affiliated, would hold a four-day national conference starting from October 3 at Hisar in Haryana to analyse the plight of the farm sector and draw the future course of action. Over 900 delegates from 30 States apart from farmers’ representatives from Pakistan, Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other countries would participate in the event.