Acculturation link to farmers' suicides in Bargarh

BARGARH:As farm crisis assumes alarming proportions in the district, acculturation stress could be one of the reasons behind the spate of farmer suicides in Bargarh.

After the commissioning of Hirakud Dam project, the then chief minister Biju Patnaik had visited Andhra Pradesh and invited its farmers to settle in the district in the early 60’s. This move came at the backdrop of local farmers being unaware of  double crop. However, taking cue from their Andhra counterparts who settled in Attabira block in the district, local farmers began growing paddy twice a year. This helped both locals as well as Andhra farmers to flourish.

Today, there are about 40,000 Andhraites of the 1,481,255 population of Bargarh of which about 60 per cent reside in Attabira. The presence of Andhra Spices Restaurant and an ever buzzing South Indian Hotel, which sells both south Indian tiffin and meals, is the best example of acculturation in the region. Marriages between Andhraites and Kultas, the farming community, has also become a reality. Moreover, the local landscape is dotted with typical Andhra houses which have been constructed by masons hired from Rajahmundry in the neighbouring State.

Amid this acculturation, many feel that suicides by farmers could also have come with the Andhraites. Explaining the modus operandi of the Andhra farmers, Panchanan Pradhan, who was the president of Lahanda Service Cooperative Society from 2000 to 2014, said they join hands and stand as co-borrowers for one another. Later, each of them takes loan from four separate banks including Investment Credit and Capital Credit. With the extra loan, they buy land as well as build houses and when repayment becomes tough, they end life, he said.

He also disclosed that local farmers are copying them and in the process, are getting caught in the debt trap which forces them to take the extreme step after being unable to handle the pressure.
Though there were stray incidents of farmers taking the extreme step before 2000, the first suicide was reported from Brahmantukra village in Kadobahal of Attabira on July 26, 2002. Babu Rao, a farmer of the village, committed suicide in front of the Collectorate protesting the distress sale of paddy.

As per National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), Odisha has recorded 2,621 farmer suicides from 2001 to 2008. The maximum number of suicides was reported in 2015 when 122 farmers reportedly killed themselves across the State of which 29 farmers were from Bargarh district. While it came down to eight in 2016 in Bargarh, this year, six suicides have been recorded in the last fortnight in the district so far with P Naveen Kumar of Nua Khairpali being the last reported case.

While sociologists denied that the suicide trend could be a fallout of only the acculturation process, they said it has become a reality across the country. Hence, it would not be proper to attribute the farm crisis to acculturation only without a multi-approach study, they observed.

Let's block ads! (Why?)