A mass demonstration was held by the Tripura People’s Party at circuit house, Agartala on Friday demanding a loan waiver for the farmers of the state. There has been an epidemic of suicides of farmers across India’s drought-stricken regions over the past few months. The stories behind them are all tragically similar. Debt is the driving force. As per National Crime Bureau report, every thirty minutes a farmer in India is forced to commit suicide. It is now well-known that the rural economy and the agricultural sector, in particular, have been in distress for quite some time now. The distress which started three years back worsened with two back-to-back droughts in 2014 and 2015. But the distress was also due to declining farm gate prices of a majority of crops since 2014. With rising input costs, this not only squeezed the profit margins, but the uncertainty of weather and price shocks meant that farmers had no option but to rely on moneylenders. Demonetisation may have yielded political dividends but nobody denies that it did affect the rural economy negatively, the extent of which may be known only later.
According to the Situation Assessment Survey (SAS) of 2012-13, 52% of all farmers in the country have debts outstanding, with an average debt of Rs47,000. The incidence was higher in southern states with 93% farmers indebted in Andhra Pradesh and 83% in Tamil Nadu. At the all India level, 60% of these loans were from institutional sources, while the remaining were accounted for by local money lenders and other sources. The data also shows that the extent of dependence on non-institutional sources was much higher for small and marginal farmers with more than 50% loans of these groups coming from govt.non-institutional sources.
The Tripura people’s party have alleged that the Modi govt. failed to keep its promise of ensuring 50% profit over costs to all farmers whereas the central govt. is waiving off huge loans of the business tycoons. Adding insult to injury many farmers revolting against the govt. for loan waiver in different parts of the country have been shot dead.
The Tripura People’s Party have put forth certain demands in front of the central govt. All loans of farmers should be waived off and loan sanction process for farmers should made easier. National policy should be adopted for selecting minimum rate of Agricultural products. At the start of every monsoon the minimum rates of crops should be declared. Foreign investments on agriculture needs to be stopped. Overall development of the agriculture sector should be on the priority list of the govt. 50% subsidy to be announced for small and medium farmers. And all farmers should be granted Kishan credit cards.
Recently the BJP run Uttar Pradesh govt. have waived Rs. 36,359 crore loan for UP famers.