Temperature rise, damage crops and farmer suicides-An Analysis


There is a wide array of factors that has led to the increasing spate of farmer suicides in India. The lands are not as productive as before, the markets are failing, the debts are piling up, and the pests cannot be kept at bay. More than an economic problem, this has now assumed political and humanitarian dimensions, especially since the past decade.

The Problems:

Issues of weather and climate

  • The weather in India these days has become erratic at best and rainfall does not happen at the right time. Moderate rainfall, which is needed so much for proper agriculture, is now becoming a thing of the past and things have reached the extreme. The situation is especially bad in Central India, which can be regarded as the agricultural heartland of India. Soil erosion is also a major problem faced by farmers.

Scales of operation

  • Real estate prices have gone up to such a level that people are finding it hard to buy a home as it is. In such circumstances it is unrealistic for the average people to think of owning farms for cultivation. Majority of the people who have their own land to till have got it from their ancestors. Since more often than not, after the death of a farmer his land is divided among his sons, it leaves precious little for a farmer. This is the reason that the scale of operations here is so small.

Lack of farm labour

  • These days farm labour is regarded as demeaning, especially casual labour. Sectors such as construction and industries are already employing people, who would otherwise be engaged in agriculture. This is also one reason urban migration has increased so much in the last few decades. These days the children of the farmers are more interested in getting institutional education and joining other jobs. The government has also started the system of minimum support prices, which has resulted in inflation and increased the wages. This means that the smaller landholders do not get much leeway in terms of hiring sufficient agricultural labour. It has also instituted schemes such as the MGNREGA for casual labourers, which means that they are more interested in those openings than any agricultural work. The fact that these jobs do not require to be them highly productive, as opposed to agriculture, only enthuses them further. These factors have affected the small farmer the most.

Unsatisfactory realisation of prices

  • One of the most crucial problems faced by farmers in India is regarding marketing. The laws in India are outdated and most often a farmer has no option but to sell his produce in regulated markets, where the middlemen are the ones making the maximum gains.

Inadequate storage facilities

  • ASSOCHAM estimates that each year 30-40% of the entire agricultural produce in India is damaged because there are not enough cold storages.

Quality of seeds, pesticides, and fertilisers

  • Farmers in India have to often make do with poor quality seeds. There are many reasons for this sorry predicament – ignorance on part of farmers, corruption of officials, ineffective and coercive laws, and improper enforcement of the same. The fertilisers and pesticides that they use are of a poor quality.

Following are some other problems faced by farmers in India:

• Problems in maintaining farm livestock owing to increasing costs
• Problems in getting credit at good terms and conditions because of reluctance of commercial banks
• Lack of proper irrigation
• Absence of mechanisation
• Insufficient transport facilities

What are the main findings and its shortcomings of Farmer Suicide?

  1. increasing risks faced by farmers have caused periods of economic destitution in which some individuals will cope by committing suicide. these claims involve climate events, which damage crops and push many into poverty.

  2. when temperatures rise to levels that damage crops, suicide rates also go up. It appears that crop losses are the key culprits linking self-harm to hot temperatures.

Suicide rates fall as growing season rainfall increases — although the relationship is statistically insignificant

  • temperature appears more significant than rainfall in determining suicide rates, is consistent with work from other parts of the world, where agricultural yields are shown to be more affected by temperature than they are by rainfall.

  • both temperature and rainfall affect suicide rates, temperature is the dominant climatic variable.

  • increasing growing season rainfall by 1 cm lowers the suicide rate by 7%, on average.

What have India’s economic growth and improvements in agricultural yields impacted suicides?

  • Households with more economic resources may be able to invest in heat-tolerant seeds, pay the upfront costs of irrigation technologies, or take up crop insurance.

  • Increases in average crop yields could have weakened the link between temperature and suicide by providing agricultural households with more savings.

  • However, these forms of adaptation were not taking place, as the effect of temperature on suicide is virtually identical in recent years as it was over 40 years ago.

  • This is not inconsistent with the broader literature on climate impacts, where researchers have found little evidence of adaptation in other regions of the world and for other types of climate damage.

What would some of these effects be?

  • Damages to agricultural yields can permeate throughout the economy, as food prices may rise and the demand for agricultural laborers may fall.

  • This could lead to distress both within the farming community, as well as for those whose incomes and necessary expenditures indirectly depend on crop yields.

  • The damages to the overall Indian economy from these climatic shifts are currently undocumented

  • future research that can help quantify the magnitude of these monetary damages, as these were not the focus of the present study.

Initiatives taken by the Central Government for the welfare of farmers:

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana:  

  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana has been launched to provide relief to the farmers due to poor monsoon. Under this scheme emphasis are being put on “water to each and every farm” that is to say to provide facilities of irrigation to each and every farmer along with enhancement of water conservation skill. 

  • Government of India is committed to encourage investment in the field of irrigation on water conservation and regional level along with the management concerned. 

  • Under assured irrigation scheme, emphasis is being laid on cultivable land, improvement in the skill of water conservation on the field, precision irrigation encouragement to the sophisticated technology to save water, to enhance the potentiality of aquifer, to use the waste water of Municipal Corporation etc., through this process irrigation projects are being promoted through private investment.

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yoaja: 

  • To promote bio-farming in the country, NDA Government launched an initiative in 2015. According to the scheme, the farmers are being encouraged to adopt bio-farming by making clusters in the country.

  • To be benefited from this scheme at least a cluster of 50 farmers is required along with an area of land with 50 acre. Under this scheme, every farmer will be provided Rs. 20,000/- per acre for the span of three year. Farmers will utilize this amount for the purchase of bio-seeds, harvesting and to transport the agricultural products to the local market.

Soil Health Card Scheme: 

  • Government has initiated Soil Health Card scheme to provide farmers Soil Health Card in a mission mode.

  • This card will contain the knowhow of the new trend in the soil and accordingly the required quantity of fertilizers.

  • Through that farmers will be capable enough to obtain more products on their farms.

  • Through this card, the farmers will know the fertility of their fields.

  • The expert will sort out the problem concerned with soil.  Though this card the farmers will monitor the change of quality related to the soil after  prolong use of the farms in agriculture process and they will benefit from the soil card to maintain the health of the soil. 

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna

  • Government of India has launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna to provide relief to the farmers inflicted with the loss of crop damage. This is truly a farmer welfare scheme.

  • Under this scheme, the burden of premium will be reduced and their cases will be sorted out expeditiously. 

  • Apart from the losses inflicted by crop damage, the provision has been made with this scheme to relieve the farmers from the losses in harvesting aftermath scenario. This scheme provides assessment of local calamities along with a list on unseasonal rain form, land slide and floods.

  • Under this scheme the farmers are supposed to pay 2% for Kharif and 1.5% for  Rabi.. Rest of the premium will be deposited by the Government. The Government has not prescribed any extent for subsidy.

  • The remaining premium is 90% that will be paid by the Government. Under this scheme, remote sensing, smart phone and drone use is mandatory for the expeditious assessment of the crop damage.

National Agriculture Market (e-NAM): 

  • National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) is all India electronic trading portal which aims at to form a unified national market for agricultural products by making a network for the markets related to the existing Agricultural Product Marketing Committee (APMC).

  • The government made up its mind to develop a National Agriculture Market so as to transport the agricultural product from one market to another in a smooth way, to save the producers from a number of market duties and to provide agricultural product to the consumers on a fair price.

  • By September, 2016 eNAM will cover more than 200 agricultural market and by March, 2018 such methodology will be developed for 585 markets which will facilitate the transportation of agricultural products to the market.

  • At present the farmers sell out their products through the Mandis or Bazar Committees which levy a number of duties on their products.

  • Now, there will be only one license for the whole State and duty will be levied only on one point. Electronic auction will be conducted to know about the prices. It will facilitate the way to convert the whole state to one market. The farmers will obtain more alternative to sell out their products. The transparency will be increased due to online platform and farmers will get better return.

  • Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister said that digital technology will facilitate us to be linked with the others and to share our thoughts on different points. 

India emergence campaign through village emergence:  

  • Government of India has launched a campaign named as India emergence through village emergence so as to improve the means of livelihood amongst the rural, to accelerate rural development process to strengthen Panchayati Raj across the country to establish social equality to create awareness about the agricultural schemes.

My Village My Pride: 

  • A new scheme has been initiated to provide the methodology of scientific farming and a new technology to every village. For this purpose, all the experts of Agriculture University and ICAR Institutes spreads all over the country have been invited.

  • Under this Scheme, 20,000 agriculture scientists have been engaged to adopt a village which is also involved to pay awareness to adopt the ways of sophisticated scientific farming and their implementation.  78 scientist of NRRI are in touch with farmers after having selected almost 92 villages.

  • They are providing multi dimensional information and sophisticated benefits to the farmers within prescribed time frame.

Achievements of National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack: 

  • Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister said that this premium institute has celebrated its 70th foundation day on last 23rd April. On 23rd April, 1946 Central Rice Research Institute was set up. 

  • This Institute has developed 114 rice species for different agriculture climate condition.

  • Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister thanked all the scientists of NRRI, Cuttack who have developed a very important mobile app named as “rice expert” through which farmers will get information about the different pests inflicting loss to their paddy farmers, new trends, nimetode, diseases related to paddy, different species of rice under different rice, agricultural devices and different activities after harvesting on their fields.

Possible Solutions

1. Dependency of agriculture on nature should be reduced. This can be done by effective implementation of water management techniques by the government.

2. The institutionalized funds should be made available to the maximum farmers. The farmers must be monitored and advised with regard to the utilization of such funds.

3. The farmers should be provided with technical support to enhance the agricultural productivity.

4. The World Trade Organization forced the India to decrease its subsidies whereas the developed nations have been privileged to provide agricultural subsidies to their farmers. India definitely needs to take some diplomatic actions at the world forum to protects its farmers.

5. Organic farming must be encouraged. The government must subsidize organic fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers.

6. In 1998, World Bank’s structural adjustment policies forced the government to replace farm saved seeds with corporate seeds. The Indian farmers are forced to buy the high-priced seeds manufactured by the multinationals.

7. Farmers with small land holdings must be encouraged to pursue community farming.

8. The farmers should be provided with direct instead of indirect subsidies.

9. The excessive powers of the money lenders must be checked.

10. There is a need for social and cultural awakening with in the village communities. This may be done by providing elementary education and vocational training to the farmers and their families.


The solution to the farmer’s plight should be directed towards enabling the farmers to help themselves and sustain on their own. Temporary measures through monetary relief would not be the solution. The efforts should be targeted at improving the entire structure of the small farmers wherein the relief is not given on a drought to drought basis, rather they are taught to overcome their difficulties through their own skills and capabilities. The Government needs to come up with pro-active solutions and the nation has to realize that farmers’ suicides are not minor issues happening in remote parts of a few states, it is a reflection of the true state of the basis of our economy.

“Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day but teach him how to fish, he will eat for the rest of his life”, so goes the popular saying, the case of our Indian farmers is similar to this, what they need is a means to sustain throughout their lives without having the face the desperation that adversity drives them to. If India has to shine, it is these farmers that need to be empowered.

Indian farmers have remained an ignored entity since 1991. Their hard work is seldom appreciated by their compatriots. Ironically the people who provide us with food and cloth, are deprived of it. Usually, a farmer is the only earning member in his family; his death leaves his family in destitution.

If the issue remains unaddressed it is a large possibility that India would soon emerge as a food deficient country. Probably we would have Mc. Donalds on national highways but would need to import wheat from aboard for our daily consumption.

Source:IE, PIB

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