Neoliberalism's Price Tag: 150,000 Farm Suicides in India from 1997 Through 2005 by P. Sainath (Counterpunch)
"But what has driven the huge increase in farm suicides, particularly in the Big Four or 'Suicide SEZ' States? 'Overall,' says Professor [K.] Nagaraj [of the Madras Institute of Development Studies], 'there exists since the mid-90s, an acute agrarian crisis. That's across the country. In the Big Four and some other states, specific factors compound the problem. These are zones of highly diversified, commercialised agriculture. Cash crops dominate. (And to a lesser extent, coarse cereals.) Water stress has been a common feature - and problems with land and water have worsened as state investment in agriculture disappears. Cultivation costs have shot up in these high input zones, with some inputs seeing cost hikes of several hundred per cent. The lack of regulation of these and other aspects of agriculture have sharpened those problems. Meanwhile, prices have crashed, as in the case of cotton, due to massive U.S.-EU subsidies to their growers. Or due to price rigging with the tightening grip of large corporations over the trade in agricultural commodities.'
"'From the mid-'90s onwards,' points out Professor Nagaraj, 'prices and farm incomes crashed. As costs rose - even as bank credit dried up - so did indebtedness. Even as subsidies for corporate farmers in the West rose, we cut our few, very minimal life supports and subsidies to our own farmers. The collapse of investment in agriculture also meant it was and is most difficult to get out of this trap.'"