While suicide cases have risen among agricultural labourers by 18 per cent in 2020, such deaths have decreased among land-owning cultivators by six per cent. Maharashtra has reported the maximum suicides in the farming sector. More details here.
A tribal landless farmer in the Vindhya region of Madhya Pradesh. Photo: Anil Tiwari
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report shows the number of suicides among agricultural labourers has increased from 4,324 in 2019 to 5,098 in 2020 — a rise of 18 per cent. However, the number of suicides among farmers/cultivators has been reported to have declined from 5,957 in 2019 to 5,579 in 2020 — a drop of six per cent.
While most of the other industries — automotive, textiles, real estate — were affected during the COVID19 pandemic, the farm industry functioned unhindered and supported the economy. Despite this, there were reports highlighting the plight of vegetable farmers who were selling their produce at throwaway prices as the demand had dipped.
The NCRB report titled ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India – 2020’ released on October 28, shows there has been a rise in the number of suicides of agricultural labourers in the past year.
The NCRB report documented the suicide cases of a total of 10,677 persons involved in the farming sector — 5,579 farmers/cultivators and 5,098 agricultural labourers — during 2020. This accounted for seven per cent of the total suicides cases (153,052) in the country last year.
Of the total 5,579 farmer/cultivator suicides, 95.6 per cent were male and 4.4 per cent were female. Whereas of the total 5,098 suicides among agricultural labourers during 2020, 90.6 per cent were male and 9.3 per cent were female.
It is to be noted that the NCRB report does not include any indication of the specific causes of suicide among the farm community.
Of the suicides documented in the farming sector, the NCRB report shows, Maharashtra reported the maximum incidences of suicides at 37.5 per cent. This was followed by Karnataka (18.9 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (8.3 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (6.9 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (5.0 per cent).
Meanwhile, there were states and Union Territories which have reported no suicide cases among farm community in the country. These include West Bengal, Bihar, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Delhi, Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.
A total of 153,052 suicides were reported in the country during 2020, shows the NCRB report. This is an increase of 10 per cent in comparison to 2019. The rate of suicides has also increased by 8.7 per cent during 2020 over 2019. The rate of suicides is the incidence of suicides per 1,00,000 of the population.
With 19,909, the majority of suicides were reported in Maharashtra. It was followed by Tamil Nadu (16,883), Madhya Pradesh (14,578), West Bengal (13,103) and Karnataka (12,259). These states accounted for 13 per cent, 11 per cent, 9.5 per cent, 8.6 per cent and eight per cent of the total suicides, respectively.
Daily wage earners have accounted for the maximum — 24.6 per cent — of all suicides documented in the pandemic year 2020. Of the total 153,052 people who died by suicide in 2020, as many as 37,666 were daily wagers.