The number of farm suicides in Maharashtra rose 21% to 3,661 in 2016 from 3,030 in 2015 with the state accounting for almost a third of all farm suicides in India that year, data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show. This figure includes those farmers who cultivate their own land or leased land and of agricultural labourers, according to NCRB classification.
This, even as overall farm suicides in India declined year-on-year, to 11,379 in 2016 from 12,602 suicides in 2015.
Karnataka ranks second, having 2,079 farm suicides in 2016.
The NCRB's data on suicides and accidental deaths was released on November 9, 2019 and pertains to calendar year 2016. This comes a little after their flagship report, 'Crime in India', which was released on October 21 and pertains to calendar year 2017, was released by more than a year's delay.
Agri fourth largest occupation in national suicides
Daily wage earners have the largest share of those committing suicide, followed by housewives and self-employed persons.
Individuals engaged in agriculture form the fourth largest cohort of suicides in India.
The distressing numbers of farm suicides in Maharashtra
In Maharashtra, farm suicides occurred for almost 1 in 5 of all suicides (3,661 of the 17,195) in 2016. At 3,661 suicides, the state saw an average of 10 farm suicides a day in 2016. Maharashtra's 3,661 farm suicides is more than 32% of all farm suicides in India, at 11,379.
Of 11,379 farm-related suicides in India, the NCRB has provided the following categories, along with a breakdown at the state/UT level:
- Farmers cultivating their own land, having 5,271 suicides, of which 2,283 are in Maharashtra.
- Farmers cultivating leased land, having 999 suicides in India, of which 267 are in Maharashtra
- Agricultural labourers, having 5,109 suicides in India, of which 1,111 are in Maharashtra
Maharashtra has the highest number of suicides for all agriculture-related categories of any state in India.
What is the reason behind farm suicides?
The NCRB provides no reason for the reasons behind agriculture-related suicides in India. This is a surprising, since the reasons were provided in the NCRB's prior report pertaining to 2015.
The 2015 report states that 'bankruptcy or indebtedness' and 'farming related issues' occurred for 38.7% and 19.5% of farmer and cultivator suicides in India respectively. This was followed by family problems and illness. The report further states that for agricultural labourers, family problems and illness accounted for the 40.1% and 19.1% of all suicides in 2015 respectively.
Interestingly, similar breakdowns of the reasons behind suicides have been provided in the current report for overall suicides, but a agriculture-specific drill-down has not been provided.
Maharashtra also leads overall suicide in India
The NCRB report also says all-inclusive numbers show Maharashtra had the single largest share of suicides in the country, with 17,195 of the 1,31,008 (or 13.1%). This is followed by Tamil Nadu, with 15,182 (or 11.6%) of all suicides.
Maharashtra also has a suicides rate of 14.3%, above the national average of 10.3%, but trailing far behind Sikkim, with a suicide rate at 40.3%. The NCRB defines a suicide rate as the number of suicides per lakh of population.