NOTE: Although there are continuing reports of a very high suicide rate among Indian farmers, and with many blaming failed GM Bt cotton crops as a significant factor, the Indian Government is claiming that farmer suicides are falling through the floor!

The following press release from Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (VJAS), an NGO that closely monitors farmer suicides in the key cotton growing belt of Vidarbha in Maharashtra, helps expose the gap between the Indian Government's claims and the reality. 

For examples of recent media reports on India's farm suicide crisis, see:
Wave Of Suicides Among Indian Farmers
Alex Rossi, India correspondent
Sky News, November 18 2011
Bt cotton fails farmers in state
The New Indian Express, Nov 21 2011
The Govt. is misleading the nation on farmer suicides
Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (VJAS), NAGPUR, India, November 30 2011

The claim of the Indian Govt. that farmer suicides have dropped drastically in the current year due to government initiatives is misleading, as the country is experiencing a severe agrarian crisis due to crop failure in the major suicide-prone states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This is because there is severe cotton, soybean and paddy crop failure and the spiral of farm suicides has restarted and the on-the-ground situation is very grim, as debt and distress are forcing innocent farmers to kill themselves, Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti informed in a press release today.

"We have been documenting the farmer suicides reported in Vidarbha since 1997, and The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) officially published actual figures of farmers suicides, and we have noted that NCRB figure is three times our recorded figure, but what the Minister of State for Agriculture, Harish Rawat, said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha (the Council of State, the upper house of the Parliament of India) has completely contradicted NCRB's own record of farmers' suicides and mislead the nation. It is complete rubbish and unfortunate," Tiwari added.

Here is the official NRCB link which gives the official figures
2010: NCRB figure is 3141 
Agriculture Ministry figure 454 
2004: NCRB figure is 4147
Agriculture Ministry figure 347

2010: NCRB figure is 2525
Agriculture Ministry figure 152 
2004: NCRB figure is 2666
Agriculture Ministry figure 1181

2010: NCRB figure is 2585
Agriculture Ministry figure 138
2004: NCRB figure is 1963
Agriculture Ministry figure 114

It's official. The country has seen over a quarter of a million farmers' suicides between 1995 and 2010. The National Crime Records Bureau's latest report on 'Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India' places the number for 2010 at 15,964, even though the Govt. informed the Indian parliament that in India during 2010, 657 farmers had taken their lives on this count, while in 2004 the toll was as high as .Agrarian at it's peak and NCRB exposes that  brings the cumulative 16-year total from 1995 when the NCRB started recording farm suicide data to 256,913, the worst-ever recorded wave of suicides of this kind in human history.

The Andhra Pradesh Govt. is also misleading when they report that  42 farmers' suicide in 2011 in comparison to 1,181 in 2004 and 152 in 2010. In fact, in Andhra Pradesh, 95 farmers committed suicides in just six districts in one month during Oct  Nov 2011, as per compilation of news reports by Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA). ASHA conducted fact-finding visits to 20 families and found that all of them were due to agricultural reasons. 

"It is highly objectionable that the Government classifies suicides as 'genuine' and 'not genuine'! In 2010, while the Crime Records Bureau shows 2525 farmer suicides, the AP Government has classified only 158 as 'genuine'! When it comes to implementing the relief package meant for families of suicide victims, the Government machinery is geared towards ignoring or not supporting the families with designated ex-gratia, under political compulsions," Kiran Vissa of Association for India's Development   added from Hyderabad (Kiran Vissa, AID: 09701705743)

"Farm suicide is the only figure that indicates serious agrarian crisis needs a long term solution, as it is apparent that the existing model of agriculture cannot continue. The current high-external-input model of farming has been one of the root causes for the increasing burden on farmers, given its unviable economics with spiraling costs, unmatched by adequate returns. This model of farming has also resulted in erosion and degradation of the natural resource base on which production has to rest for all time to come! The Government has to promote sustainable agriculture that will reduce costs of cultivation for farmers and reduce risks through diversity-based, agro-ecological approaches. A programmatic thrust along with appropriate and adequate support systems is required to spread sustainable agriculture like the CMSA programme in Andhra Pradesh is required immediately. In this context, the importance of grassroots farmers' institutions, to make farming a collective enterprise in
many ways, cannot be over-emphasized," said Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) informed from Bangalore.