Climate-stressed Indian farmers seek to escape debt and suicide

(Context, 12 May 2023) India's farmers face mounting losses as drought worsens, with some even driven to suicide, spurring calls for social protection to ease the pressure.

Farmer Ganpatram Bheda, 66, fears he will lose his two acres of land in northwest India after scarce rainfall and extreme cold in recent years hit crop yields, trapping him in a web of loans with little help from the state to overcome his financial woes.

As small-scale Indian farmers like Bheda grapple with growing climate uncertainties, researchers this week called for a robust rural jobs scheme, crop insurance and mental healthcare to ease growing distress and suicide in agrarian communities.

In a new report linking rainfall deficits to higher farmer suicide rates in India's drought-prone states, researchers said climate change was making "agriculture an extremely risky, potentially dangerous and loss-making endeavour".

Farmers are among the most at-risk groups in India for death by suicide, said the report from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), as recurring droughts affect their health and emotional wellbeing.

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Context, 12 May 2023: Climate-stressed Indian farmers seek to escape debt and suicide