According to the Taluk agricultural department, farmer’s suicide rate in Yelburga Taluk has almost doubled in the past two years.
Shanta’s husband, Baswaraj committed suicide two years ago facing the heavy debt from the bank loan which he was unable to pay. “It was five months before the suicide that the problem began. At that time, he didn’t convey anything to us about the problem…He took the loan from the bank keeping our land as collateral” said Shanta, a resident of Mudhol village located in the Yelburga Taluk.
More than 14000 farmers from Yelburga have applied for the loans last year and many farmers are facing a debt as they are unable to pay off their loans. Mr. Verappa Nirgundi, a farmer from Yelburga facing the debt said , “We have to give a lot of interest and sometimes we have to work for someone else to pay back for the lost money… If we take the money from someone, we will try to pay but if we fail to do so what is the option that remains with us, many drink poison and die but what will their children do. If the proper rainfall comes, we can pay back the loan and if not it’s very difficult to pay back the loan.”
According to the National Disaster Response Force report, the Yelburga Taluk faced the loss of almost 80,000 hectares of crops in the year 2018-19 and approximately almost 40,000 farmers have suffered the loss. Mr. Ravi Abbigeri, a social worker from Yelburga said, “The bank usually gives loan to the farmers at an interest rate of 5 percent to 6 percent but it’s a very lengthy process and not all farmers get the loan. So farmers usually prefer the other means outside the nationalized bank where they are charged the interest rate of 15 percent to 16 percent per annum.”
To tackle the situation of the farmers’ distress, the government of Karnataka has waived off the loans two years ago but the situation has not improved as farmers find themselves yet again facing the heavy debt. F.D Kattimani, Chief Development Officer in Mudhol village said, “There is a program to boost the economic activity, they are providing loans for the needy people like self-help groups, the government has put the cluster through which farmers get the money under National Rural Livelihood Mission”. The villagers, however, complain that they don’t get benefit from such schemes, “We don’t get timely work here and there is also a delay in payment. Most of the workers here are weak and old. How can they able to pull off such a tedious workload?”
Veerapa Nirgundi said “whatever is today, we wouldn’t be getting it tomorrow. The government which is here today won’t be there tomorrow. We will have to look for our children on our own. All we know is that we have to feed our family and save money for our children’s future and this is what we need.” The drought-prone area of Yelburga still struggles to provide farmers basic amenities. The growth in agricultural-related suicide is the major problem that needs to be tackled.