From 2000-01 to 2005-06, around 8,600 farmers committed suicide in Karnataka.
Bassappa is one such farmer from Hullumbi, North Karnataka (India), who is on the verge of committing suicide. He has six acres of land out of which three acres are under family dispute. Adding to his misery is a loan of USD 15,467 which he has taken for different reasons other than agriculture. Land disputes are common in agriculture. The issue of land has given way to these disputes. Since his two elder brothers left home, he has been taking care of his four dwarf siblings and the family. Bassappa is quite aware of the government policy that entertains the waiving off of the loan of farmers possessing land below five acres. But it is of no avail to him.
With his three acres of rain fed land and little knowledge about agriculture, he is toiling hard to cultivate paddy. Once a loan is sanctioned, the bank is least bothered about its outcome. The farmers are smart in availing the benefits by applying for the highest crop loan. Most of time the money serves other purpose else than agriculture as in the case of Bassappa.
Farmers like Bassappa are seldom thought worthy by the government to be considered as an associate in planning and research to decide their priorities and requirements. Consequently mechanisms towards this end have rarely been developed. The promotion of monoculture and high yielding crops haven’t helped the state of farmers. With an average land holding of three acres and no irrigation facilities, agriculture seems to be a difficult deal for a farmer. There are many farmers like Bassappa, who are devoid of education and technical skill, buried under the glory of modern day agriculture.
The reasons that contribute to the suicides and to their misery are manifold; starting from indebtedness of farmers, absence of a social support infrastructure at the village and district level, lack of agricultural expertise in the region, rising costs of cultivation, plummeting prices of farm commodities, repeated crop failure and the lack of political will and insight in the region.