Bengaluru: The extended drought and huge crop losses coupled with mounting debts have triggered a fresh spate of farmer suicides in the state over the last year.
While as many as 821 farmers committed suicide between April 1 last year and March 2 this year, the agriculture department has accepted only 521 of these as related to the drought and rejected 198 as they seem to have other causes.
It has not taken a decision on another 102 suicides for want of verification from the Forensic Science Labortory (FSL) in Hyderabad on the cause of death.
While there is no doubt that farmers in the state are in dire straits owing to four successive years of drought, the loss of both their kharif and rabi crops and their mounting debts, officers of the agriculture department say they are baffled by the number committing suicide as the government has reached out to them with concessions and schemes to help them in their hour of need.
Although the number of suicides has fallen when compared to previous years , the figure is still alarming, the officers note. "The Chief Minister has already instructed banks not to force farmers to repay their dues and turn their short and medium term crop loans into long term loans with waiver of interest, but more suicides were reported during April and October last year and January and February, this year," they point out.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed that more will not end their lives as there are still another three months to go for the monsoon. The government is expected to announce some more sops in the coming budget to rekindle hope among the state's farmers," the officers added.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission, T N Prakash Kammardi , believes the government must come out with an immediate drought-proof agriculture policy to help farmers....