Gujarat: Under-debt, farmer commits suicide over ‘crop failure’

A 52-year-old farmer at Arsodia village in Sabarkantha district has committed suicide by consuming pesticide allegedly over crop failure. His family said that Bharat Govind Parmar had taken a farm loan of Rs 3.5 lakh from Union Bank of India and was finding it difficult to repay it due to “repeated failure of crops for the last three years”. Parmar was shifted to Apollo Hospital in Ahmedabad where he died late Friday. “In their initial statements, the family members Bharat Govind Parmar have said that crop failure and financial crisis was the reason for committing suicide. But a proper investigation is yet to be conducted to know the exact cause of suicide,” said Sub-Inspector Vijaysinh Gadaria of Himmatnagar B-division police station, who recorded the statement of Parmar’s family members.

Sabarkantha Superintendent of Police Saurabh Singh also said that “exact reason behind the suicide could be known only after proper investigation when the family is over from the shock of suicide’’. However, speaking to The Sunday Express, the deceased farmer’s cousin said that Parmar, who used to grow cotton, castor, tobacco on his 5 bigha land and another 5 bigha on rent, was facing severe financial crisis due to “repeated crop failure”. “I discussed the matter with other family members and we had decided to buy 10 cows and buffaloes for him in the next two to three months to supplement his income through animal husbandry. I had communicated about it to Bharatbhai. However, he took the extreme step and ended his life, shocking every one in the family,” said Vipul, who runs a security agency in Himmatnagar, about 40 km from Arsodia village.
Parmar’s two sons are married and work with private companies in Himmatnagar, earning Rs 10,000-15,000 per month. “Though they saved some money to support their parents, but that was not enough to meet the requirements. Bharatbhai recently told me that agriculture was no more profitable with increasing cost of labour, seeds, fertiliser and pesticides. Moreover, the minimum support price (MSP) for agriculture produce like cotton has not been increased in proportion to the hike in increase in input cost of production. This has made agriculture non-profitable,” Vipul said, adding that Parmar had recently asked him to look some jobs for him in Himmatnagar. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, when questioned by mediapersons about the incident, ruled out financial crisis due to failure of crop as the the reason for the suicide. “When incidents of farmers’ accidental deaths come and we go to its root causes, we get different details. No cases of small farmers committing suicide due to crop failure have taken place in Gujarat. But people do so (commit suicide) for some other reasons like loss in business, some big expenditure, or debt-related to non-agriculture purpose. Situation in Gujarat is not such that farmers have to commit suicide. Gujarat’s agriculture production is increasing every year due to Narmada related irrigation,” Patel said. Meanwhile, farm activist Bharatsinh Jhala said that 11,000 farmers had committed suicide in Gujarat between 1998 and 2014 and another 2,500 farmers between 2014 and 2018, “quoting figures from National Crime Records Bureau”.
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