Sunday, April 12, 2009

Punjab Farmer Suicides

Hearing about farmer suicides in Punjab is no longer (and quite unfortunately not) a unique thing anymore. It's a topic which i find very disheartening, and it's recurrence in the news reinforces the need to pay closer attention to the root cause of these deaths and who is being impacted by them.
Mandip Kaur, a 29-year-old housewife from a farming family in southern Punjab, guards her husband round the clock. "I fear he may commit suicide," she says... Almost every village in Punjab has witnessed a suicide in their once-prosperous farming families and it is a major issue in the general election.
As a friend recently noted, it is women who often bear the burden of their husband's death. The impact that farmer suicides is having on wives, children, and entire communities cannot be understated.
National Crime Records Bureau statistics say close to 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997. Punjab, responsible for producing nearly two-thirds of the grain in India, has faced many economic crises since the the mid-1990s. No comprehensive official figures on farmer suicides in the area are available. But a report commissioned by the government of Punjab this week estimated that there had been "close to 3,000 suicides" among farmers and farm labourers in just two of Punjab's 20 districts in recent years, agriculture ministry sources told the BBC.
There are several issues which have caused the increase in farmer suicides over the last number of years. The Punjab government's website proclaims that "India has gone from a food-deficit to a food-surplus country" largely because of the Green Revolution of Punjab. Is the Punjab we envisioned? Read more about this article here.