More than 15,000 farmers in India committed suicide in the last 10 years, said Professor Sukhpal Singh during a seminar at Panjab University on Friday.
Dr Sukhpal Singh, Professor of Economics and Sociology at Punjab Agriculture University, was speaking at the seminar, ‘Agriculture Crisis: Rural Life At Stake’ organised by Panjab University Campus Students Council (PUCSC).
Professor Sukhpal said that among the 3 crore population of Punjab, nearly 1 crore is work force. Among that 1 crore, 35 lakhs are involved with farming. And the number of farmers is dwindling because farmers see no future in agriculture.
“In the last 10 years, nearly 16,000 farmers have committed suicide in India and most of them are between 15-45 years old,” Professor said. India has seen a considerable rise in farm-related issues in the last couple of years. The issues are not because of poor production but because of the terms of trade between agriculture sector and industries.
“Punjab is merely 1.5% of India’s total land but its agriculture production is very high compared to the other states of the country. Farmers do not see any future in agriculture and they do not let their younger generations to be involved in farming. The farmers are dwindling and this is not due to the poor agriculture production but it is the result of poor terms of trade between agricultural sector and industry sector,” he added. Professor Singh also said that in most of the agricultural states of India, household income of a farm families is very low and they cannot mostly avail services that others do.
“In 17 agricultural states of the country, the household income per month of a farm family is about 1,700 and most of them are debt-laden. If we talk about Punjab, there are about 10 lakh farm families and the average debt of the farm families is Rs 8 lakh,” he said during the seminar, adding that to overcome these problems, sociologist approach should be taken.
Jasminder Longowal, a member of Bharti Kisan Union Ugrahan (BKUU), was present at the seminar. He said, “Farmers are not in a position as they were in the past. They do not have enough resources now to educate their children, to avail health facilities. Farmers also need education but the problem is that every sector, whether it is education or healthcare, is being privatised and the farmers cannot afford to avail these services.”
Professor Dinesh Abrol of Centre of Science Policy Jawaharlal Nehru University said that there is no political representation of farmers in Indian Parliament. “Their is no representation of farmers in Parliament of the country and most of the parliamentarians are from rich class. Nearly 83 per cent parliamentarians are millionaires,” Professor Dinesh said.
Professor Abrol said there has been a sharp rise in the imports in last years and rise in agrarian issues.