Farmers must be saved from debt trap

This has reference to Suraj Bhan Dahiya’s article “Farmers driven to suicide” (May 1). “Credit”, says a French proverb, “supports the farmer as the hangman’s rope supports the hanged”. However, the fact that farmers cannot carry on their business without outside finance is proved by history and the appalling indebtedness of those engaged in agriculture.

Agricultural credit is a problem when it cannot be obtained. It is also a problem when it can be obtained in a form that on the whole it does more harm than good. In India it is this twin problem of inadequacy and unsuitability that is perennially presented by agricultural credit.

According to Wolf, “the country is in the group of mahajans.” It is the bonds of debt that shackle agriculture. The continued neglect of life and death problems faced by farmers constitutes a serious violation of human rights enshrined in the Constitution and various international covenants.

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A policy regime that recognises the farmers’ rights as human rights is the need of the hour. How Sir Chhotu Ram tackled this problem in the pre-Independence era through legislation is now history. The state governments should follow his prescription and take measures to provide relief to the peasantry.



Mere availability of loans and credit facilities to help farmers buy agricultural inputs won’t do. Basically, in the present form, agriculture has become non-profitable. The MSP of farm produce is generally uneconomic. Almost all the agricultural universities have found that selling wheat at a low MSP will lead farmers to debt.

Unfortunately, small farmers are always in a situation of “must sell”. The same wheat is sold at Rs 10 or Rs 12 a kg. The cost of inputs has increased considerably. How can a farmer survive in such circumstances? In addition to social liabilities such as marriages, easy availability of credit from commission agents at hefty interest rates leads to unproductive expenditure by the farmers and they fall into their debt trap.

Marketing of vegetables and fruits is limited to small areas and this leads to glut and distress selling. Then there are natural calamities like floods, storms and drought. Milk production has become very costly as one kg of good cattle feed costs Rs 9 whereas a farmer sells cow’s milk for Rs 7 a litre to vendors. Dairy farming and horticulture are considered non-agricultural undertakings.

If we are really keen on saving farmers from the debt trap, there is a need for a detailed study of the problems of the agricultural sector and find suitable solutions.

Col MAKHAN SINGH (retd), Mohali


The writer exposes the myth of Punjab being a rich state. The psycho-socio economic stress drives the farmer to commit suicide. There is need for a multi-disciplinary approach to resolve the problem with the involvement of panchayats, NGOs, the government, agricultural specialists.

They should educate the farmers on resource management, providing agriculture know how, easy credit facilities, cutting down non-productive expenditure so that they can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Extensive empirical studies should be done at the grassroot level to pinpoint the factors responsible for the farmers’ suicides. We must strive to save the Indian farmer for the survival of this great country.

Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bathinda

Focus on need-based education

Education has never received serious attention since Independence. Experts formulate policies sitting in air-conditioned offices without keeping in mind their impact on the rural public which constitutes around 70 per cent of the total population of the country. Our educational standards have been falling for past two decades.

We do have factories, plants and skilled manpower. But our education system is not producing quality people. The human resource is very important for a nation’s growth.

Union Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar rightly says that we need to focus on quality education which is relevant to the needs of future besides investing in social infrastructure and creating employment opportunities. If we do not formulate suitable need-based education policies, we shall have to pay a heavy price tomorrow.

Dr SUNIL KUMAR BARI, Head, Commerce Dept, SMDRSD College, Pathankot

Induct fresh talent

There is a general impression that the government needs to raise the age limit for candidates appearing in Civil Services, Judicial Service examinations. This is necessary to induct fresh talent and streamline the functioning of the executive and the judiciary.



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