14 farmers committed suicide in Punjab in April: report

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A 40-year-old farmer from Hoshiarpur district in Punjab reportedly engaged suicide after consuming a toxic substance because he was disappointed with the low wheat production this season. Manjit Singh, a farmer, was found dead with a suicide note in which he said he took the action due to insufficient wheat production this season.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Police (Garhshankar) Narinder Singh, the unfortunate event happened on Friday night at Paddi Sura Singh village in Hoshiarpur. Manjit owned a small agricultural plot and had signed a contract for 18 acres, he owed Rs 17 lakh to banks. According to his brother Sarabjit, Manjit is survived by his wife and two boys, and he asked the state government to compensate them.

According to the Bharatiya Kisan (Ugrahan) Union, 14 farmers committed suicide in Punjab in April, 11 of them in the Malwa region itself. Many farmers have committed suicide due to stress caused by low crop yield this season, according to Shingara Singh Maan, vice president of BKU Ugrahan.

Due to the premature onset of the heatwave, wheat farmers in Punjab have seen reduced production and deformed grains. The low wheat crop yield was a double whammy for farmers whose cotton yield was already Suffering this year due to a pink bollworm infestation.

Additionally, the farmer suicides have heightened political tensions in the state, with former Punjab Congress speaker Navjot Singh Sidhu lambasting the ruling Aam Aadmi party and reminding it of its commitments in the pre-election manifesto. Sidhu reminded AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal of his manifesto pledge, in which the Delhi CM said that if his party were elected, no farmer in Punjab would commit suicide after April 1.

Sidhu slammed the AAP official on Saturday, urging him to stop lying. In a tweet, Sidhu wrote: “Despite @ArvindKejriwal ji guarantees that no farmer will commit suicide in Punjab after AAP came to power, 7 farmers committed suicide in Bathinda district alone. This year crop yield is >30% low, on top of that the government is preparing to arrest 2000 farmers for non-payment”

It should be noted that Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Leader Arvind Kejriwal had promised that if his party wins the Punjab Assembly elections, he would compensate farmers for crop losses by April 30.

The Punjab government, according to Harjinder Baggi, head of the Bathinda branch of BKU Ugrahan, should remedy the situation to prevent farmers from committing suicide.

Punjab farmers borrow more than farmers in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra

According to a study led by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in collaboration with the Bharat Krishak Samaj, an average farmer in Punjab borrows four times more than his peers in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and more than five times more than farmers in Maharashtra.

The analysis focused on recent agricultural loan waivers by the Tri-State governments. It revealed that farmers in Punjab borrowed the most money by farmer category among the three states, and that their reliance on non-institutional sources was also the highest across all farmer categories.

A marginal farmer in Punjab borrows Rs 3.4 lakh per year, compared to Rs 84,000 and Rs 62,000 in UP and Maharashtra, respectively, according to the report.

Furthermore, the report found that while the government was repaying farmers’ debts, the budgets of other ministries were suffering due to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s government farm loan exemption, which began in 2017. For example, when most exemptions were granted in Punjab in 2018-2019, the actual expenditure of many other ministries was reduced.

Interestingly, the agricultural debt cancellation scheme in Punjab was largely financed by a loan taken out by the Punjab Mandi Board from a private bank. The exemption benefits were transferred through a loan from the Punjab Mandi Board. The Punjab Mandi Board imposed an additional tax of 1% on the arrival of wheat and paddy on the Mandis to pay off the debt. These funds were used to repay the aforementioned debt.

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