Farmer Suicides

5 05 2009

Recently I was horrified to learn that mass suicide due to debt is not uncommon in some parts of the world. Some 1500 farmers committed suicide last month in India due to their debt from crop failure. A further 200 000 have died since 1997, a mere 12 years ago.

The article goes on to talk about Australian farmer suicides – they’re killing themselves at the staggering rate of one farmer every four days! I am blown away by these numbers – surely in a developed country such as Australia there must be other options for these people? I feel I have to question a system where individuals are driven not only to debt and unemployment, but actual suicide over their crop failures.

vandanashiva1Vandana Shiva is a well-known activist in this area, working mostly in India, she gives hope to the people, helping to organize countless protests and demonstrations against everything from major-scale dams and hydro-electric projects funded by the World Bank, to the maltreatment of individual squatters in the cities.

– Sarah Topps

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4 responses

5 05 2009
qst4wldrnss

But you have to ask. Why are their crops failing? At one point in time, that land was made to grow the crops they grow? It is because of companies such as Monsanto that genetically change the properties of the plants to resist such pesticides as RoundUp. So these farmers are forced to purchase this seed, and all of the herbicides & fertilizer that this seed needs to grow (when before it grew great on its own), and then shell out royalties to the seed company. It is perpetuating. I believe that it is the seed companies that will eventually rule the world- not money…

5 05 2009
zarc42

Thank you qst4wldrnss for your insightful comments on the background behind this story. I certainly think you raised some valid points.

There are a number of reasons that their crops fail – yes, the seed companies and the problems arising from the Green Revolution definitely contribute, but you could also consider global warming + rising temperatures, natural droughts or pest invasions, market prices being too low from markets flooded with subsidized crops from elsewhere, people finding other sources of food and not eating as many traditional crops, the subdivision of land through family heritage which creates smaller and smaller plots of land per person, displacement from hydro-electric projects and other major state-run infrastructure changes… there are numerous reasons why their crops might be failing or why they are in debt – my astonishment was at the sheer numbers that are so destitute and desperate that they commit suicide, rather than finding other work, selling their land, asking the government for help or finding alternative means of sustaining themselves/their families.

5 05 2009
zarc42

I encourage readers to jump in and give their own opinion, especially on contentious issues such as this one.

18 05 2009
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