Farm Sector Distress is Symptom not the Cause

Denial is not a solution to any problem as the problem never ceases to exist but is the most convenient tool for the responsible to avoid any question, scrutiny or criticism. Every year thousands of farmers across India suicide due to farm sector distress. However it is difficult to ascertain and segregate how many of them commit suicide due to farm sector distress and other reasons. But the administration in the governments (central and states) have over time developed a peculiar habit of denying and not accepting this fact straightforwardly. In many states, the government agencies fail to even compile the data for the same perhaps to avoid the onus from them. However, even if the state governments don't compile the data regarding the farmers' suicide or the central government fails to procure the same from the states, there exist the problem of farm sector distress and farmers' suicide in India and is duly acknowledged.

The solution to the farm sector distress and farmers’ suicide is not straight forward and simplistic. To arrive at any solution and policy response, there is a need to abandon all the prejudices relating to this particular problem that have till dominated the narrative to find out the root cause of the distress. But there has been an artificial policy paralysis since long and when the central government came up with a change in perspective and resultant policy response (three farm bills), that turned out to be very unilateral and half baked. Till now most of the policy responses have been focusing on the symptoms rather than the causes.

Governments (central and states) have been reluctant to accept that the farm sector distress in India is not the root cause of the low income and farmer’s suicide. The root cause of the problem lies in the unscientific crop patterns, artificial policy ceiling on the prices of agricultural products, lack of market and very low investment in agriculture (research, infrastructure and promotion).

Rajeev Upadhyay

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