100,000 farmer suicides?

April 7, 2008

I read this article on India’s current budget woes, and the article mentions more than 100,000 farmers’ suicides . Obviously the agriculture sector isn’t benefiting from the tech boom. Apparently loan debt is a leading cause. Apparently no subprime loan bailouts for Indian farmers. Official figures say "According to the National Crime Records Bureau, at least 87,567 farmers committed suicide between 2002 and 2006."

Blame the Green Revolution ? One of the great food production success stories of all time that garnered a Nobel Prize  for its father ? Well, it was too good for rural farmers. Farmers had to borrow money to buy chemicals and seeds. "The changes caused higher operating costs and production that created a market glut exceeding demand at home and abroad. To remain in business, many farmers were forced to take out loans at high interest rates. Once credit had been exhausted, they turned to private lenders, who charged even more exorbitant interest rates."

Also blame US farm subsidies and biotech companies . "As the world’s largest cotton producer, the United States provides massive subsidies that allow American farmers to undercut overseas competition by selling at an artificially low cost. Moreover, many Indian farmers are now using genetically engineered Bt cotton seeds made by U.S.-based Monsanto Co., which produce higher yields. The seeds and fertilizer, however, must be bought each year, costing farmers thousands of dollars."

I doubt this is a US and Indian elite engineered plot  to reduce world population levels, if anything because the Iraq example shows that we aren’t that good. There is a plan to help bail out the farmers with a $15 billion rescue package, but it only helps the ‘middle class’ of farmers, since "excluding farmers with more than five acres, it leaves out those who are most at risk. "

"While well intentioned , the new budget’s lavish loan forgiveness scheme will not help those farmers who most need relief: 80 percent of India’s farmers have no access to formal credit, and it is bank loans that are to be forgiven. Moreover, since farmers who do have access to formal credit will have less incentive to repay their loans, banks will become more reluctant to lend to any farmers at all."



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