241,679 farmers in India committed suicide between 1995 and 2009*
Dr. Raju Das, an associate professor at York University, has done extensive research on economic development policy, agrarian change, and poverty in India. Here is some of what he had to say:
In 1991, the Indian government scaled back support of small-scale farmers and increased investment in infrastructure serving large agribusiness. Farmers saw decreased input subsidies, privatization of government industries, and an increase in foreign investment encouraged by tax incentives. Opening up markets to inexpensive foreign goods eroded the competitiveness of India’s crops. Forced to sell at lower prices and denied subsidies by the government, the wages of India’s farmers began to plummet.
Open markets have also given international corporations the platform to push genetically modified (GM) seeds with higher crop yield potentials, but the seeds are sold to farmers at a cost two to ten times higher than traditional seeds.
Irrigation is required for these higher yields, but the government has failed to provide irrigation facilities in any adequate way. Seventy percent of farmland still depends on monsoon rainfall, so when drought comes farmers suffer. Continue Reading