Another farmer dies due to over loan burden & failed crop

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According to his relatives, a 45-year-old farmer died on Friday in the western Odisha district of Sambalpur, two days after consuming insecticide, purportedly due to crop failure and his poor yield selling for a very cheap price.

Kaibalya Rohidas, a 45-year-old farmer from Kudagunderpur village in Sambalpur district, was suffering from significant mental stress as a result of crop failure. “My father produced two quintal paddy in the last Rabi season, but he could sell only 45 kg of his produce at [the] Minimum Selling Price (MSP). He suffered a huge loss amounting to ₹1.5 lakh as he had to sell the remaining paddy stock at a very cheap price, causing him huge mental distress,” alleged his son Dasarath Rohidas.

His father’s anxiety was exacerbated, according to his son, by the fact that he had to repay a cooperative society for a debt of at least $72,000 used to purchase a power tiller.

Following the farmer’s death, Nauri Nayak, a BJP MLA from Kuchinda, visited the Rohidas family and promised to forgive the farmer’s loan and pay the family an ex-gratia of at least ten lakh rupees.

Basant Hati, Dhankauda’s block development officer (BDO), said the farmer’s death would be investigated to determine the actual cause.

A 50-year-old farmer from the coastal Bhadrak district committed himself in February after being pressured by a non-banking finance company and a self-help group that had financed his family 50,000 rupees. Due to the economic stress created by the coronavirus pandemic, the farmer’s family was unable to repay the loan.

Odisha agricultural minister Arun Sahoo told the state Assembly last year that 38 farmers in the state committed suicide between 2016 and 2019. In 2016-17, 16 farmers committed suicide, followed by 20 in 2017-18 and two in 2018-19. In 2019-20 and 2020-21, there is no government report on the number of farmer suicides.

The National Crime Record Bureau, which published statistics on farmer suicides for the first time in 2014, stated that bankruptcy or indebtedness, as well as family problems, were the leading causes of suicide among male farmers. Farming-related issues were the leading cause of suicide among female farmers, followed by family problems and marriage-related issues, according to the report.

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