Intelligence Bureau gets proactive, blames govt for farmer suicides

It seems strange that the domestic intelligence agency should take official note in areas which relate to government policy. Bit the Intelligence Bureau has warned the government of ''limited utility'' in government packages given to farmers.

Farmer

The IB has sent a note about farmer suicides to the Prime Minister's Office, copied to the home ministry, the cabinet secretary, and the ministry of agriculture, saying government schemes ''do not address plight of farmers who have taken loans from moneylenders'', and asks for a ''comprehensive'' solution to the problem.

In the document, titled Spate of Suicides by Farmers, the IB has attributed farmer suicides to ''limited utility'' of government schemes, among other ''natural'' and ''man-made factors''.

The note said there is a need to address issues of crop yield, availability of farm inputs, loans from banking institutions, assured irrigation, cold storage and marketing facilities, and fair-pricing policies.

''There is also a need for creation of alternative source of income for farmers by way of non-farming activities like dairy, poultry and fisheries,'' the IB note added.

''Outstanding loans, rising debt, low crop yield, poor procurement rate of crops and successive crop failures have mainly been identified as causes of suicides.''

High interest rates charged by moneylenders outside the official financial system range between 24 and 50 per cent, another factor that puts intense pressure on farmers. Since many of them do not have access to banks or financial institutions, they depend on moneylenders, the IB said.

''Erratic monsoons, a decline in ground water level and macro-economic policies with respect to taxes, prices and import and export have contributed to the same,'' the note said.

Some of these findings by the IB have surprised officials since they require a technical knowledge of the agriculture sector.

The note stated that several cases of suicide by farmers have been reported from Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka and Punjab. It added that Gujarat, UP and Tamil Nadu also show instances of suicides by debt-ridden farmers.