Debt trap widening, insurance coverage cut, farmers distress, insurance for farmers, farmers suicide, crop loss in Kerala, breaking news

The state’s farmers are in constant struggle with changing weather conditions and agencies that control market prices here. Farmers are already in distress due to crop loss caused by unexpected summer rains. Along with this, mill owners and agencies refrain from buying the crops at the real price. Instead, they set a price taking into account the moisture of the paddy grains and their quality. Government compensation for crop losses is too meager.

90 percent of farmers in the state use loans. If the crops are destroyed, there will be no way to repay the debt.

2,65,547 farmers suffered crop losses last year as the state received continuous rainfall for nearly 11 months due to low pressure and cyclone formations. Agriculture on 1,12,674 hectares was ruined and crops worth Rs 180 crores perished. Data up to December reveals that the government paid Rs 4.89 crore as compensation.

Thousands of farmers who have fallen into the debt trap after taking out loans from the state’s cooperative banks have contacted the Kerala State Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission. 85,000 applications to the commission are waiting to be heard due to Covid restrictions. The commission informed that these requests will be examined from November. Many other farmers who have taken loans from other banks and financial institutions are also in distress here.

Total loans to farmers in Kerala stood at Rs 81,481 crore till June 2019. These loans were extended to 74 lakhs of accounts in total. It includes gold loans, Kisan credit cards and small loans distributed by cooperative societies.

A response given during question time in the assembly said that 25 farmers committed suicide from 2016 to 2021 in Kerala. But data revealed by the union government shows that 104 farmers committed suicide in the state between 2018 and 2020.

The state government is trying to make insurance favorable to farmers, Agriculture Minister P Prasad has said.

13,604 farmers in the state are covered by Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, 51,658 by weather insurance scheme and 29 lakhs have been registered for Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Yojana. 2.04 farmers are registered here under the state crop insurance scheme and 19 lakhs are registered in the register of farmers in Krishi Bhavan. However, 12 lakh farmers in the state are still excluded from insurance benefits.

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John A. Bogar