One of the biggest reasons for high indebtedness in rural Punjab is the increasing gap between income and expenditure. For small and marginal farmers – especially ones from the Malwa region in Punjab – mostly, the only source of income is the agricultural produce sold at the minimum support price (MSP), at the government-regulated markets. But because the produce is usually not procured at the ‘guaranteed’ prices announced, farmers’ tend to face losses.
The total number of debt-related suicides in Punjab this year could be hovering around 8,800, double the COVID-19 deaths recorded in Punjab as of December 2020 (~4,900).
In this context of pervasive debt in Punjab, and suicides related to debt economics believe that the new contentious farm laws, which have led to massive protests by farmers and agricultural labourers countrywide, will be further detrimental.
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