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Are we missing a lifesaving opportunity?

Evidence shows that effective pesticide regulation can dramatically reduce the number of non-farm suicides taking place in India, while simultaneously improving public health, farmer incomes, and the environment.

Author: Aastha Sethi
Published in: India Development Review

Introduction

In India, there are around 31 farmer suicides every day, and 948 every month. In addition, 570 non-farmers commit suicide every day causing immense family and community distress.

Though much public attention has been focused on farmer and farm-labour suicides, little has been said about possible solutions that aren’t predicated on structural shifts to the agricultural sector, the economy, or combating climate change.

After more than a decade of research, the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention (CPSP) at The University of Edinburgh suggests that there may be a solution—a quick fix of-sorts—that could mitigate the number of suicide-related deaths in India: banning highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). Recent policy shifts towards sustainable agriculture, combined with evidence that banning pesticides can reduce suicide-related deaths, presents a unique window of opportunity for us to address this problem.