Harvest of Grief: A film by Rasil Basu and Ekatra Production that explores the severe agricultural crisis in Punjab

The north Indian state of Punjab was once a land of plenty, considered the breadbasket of the nation.



Since the mid-1990s, however, unable to bear the burden of escalating agricultural costs, declining soil fertility, dwindling yields and mounting debt, small and marginal farmers are killing themselves.

The government’s official figures put the suicide count in Punjab to date at a little over 2,000. However, experts put the number well over 40,000 in 20 years.

As the suicide rate mounts, policy-makers fail to alleviate the plight of the debt-ridden small and marginal farmers and, more broadly, to rescue agriculture from the clutches of moneylenders and big industry.

Mounting male suicides have also had traumatic consequences for women. As a result of the farming community’s patriarchal structure, women are ill-equipped to cope with the abrupt and violent loss of the male breadwinners and the challenges and responsibilities that confront them. Often farms are confiscated because of women’s inability to repay high-interest loans. Widows, who become the sole breadwinners, are harassed by money lenders. Children suffer by being forced to leave school and work at early ages.

Harvest of Grief, a 66-minute documentary, chronicles the victims' untold stories. It is shot in four villages in Sangrur, a relatively poor district of Punjab.

The film touches upon the human and social cost of 'solutions' to hunger such as the Green Revolution. It explores the severe agricultural crisis caused by economic liberalization, globalization and the myopic business strategies of profit-seeking multinational corporations.

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