Farmer Distress Index

Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) have developed an early warning system called Farmers Distress Index to predict farmer’s woes before happening.

What is the Farmers Distress Index?

  • Farmers’ exposure to shocks have increased in the recent years, with an increase in extreme climate events as well as market and price fluctuations, many times driving them to death by suicides.
  • In this sense, the index becomes a tool that measures the level of hardship and suffering faced by farmers due to various factors such as climate change, crop failure, price volatility, and income loss.
  • The main aim behind creating such an index is to minimise the agrarian distress in the form of crop loss / failure and income shock.

Working of the index

  • The development of the index involves multiple steps.
  • It involves going through local newspapers, other news platforms and social media platforms for any report on incidence of farmers distress like localised cases of issues with debt repayment, death by suicide, pest attacks, drought, floods, migration, among others
  • Following this, contacts of farmers from the area will be collected to conduct telephonic interviews, which will have 21 standardized questions to gauge early signs of distress.
  • Based on these questions, the degree of distress will be identified.
  • The index will have values from 0-1. A value between 0-0.5 will indicate “low distress’, 0.5-0.7 will indicate ‘moderate’ distress and above 0.7 will indicate ‘severe’ distress.
  • If the index is severe, it will identify which component among the seven is more severe and contributes maximum to farmers distress.


  • It can integrate the available high-frequency data on key agricultural variables like deviation of monsoon rains, excessive rainfall, drought and dry spells, variations in temperature and soil moisture, and yield of major crops in the district
  • It won’t be uniform across the country as it changes from place to pace depending on the stress levels.
  • It can be used by the policymakers and the government to plan and design a timely and targeted method of supporting distressed farmers.
  • Depending on the level of distress, government and financial institutions can decide on an appropriate package of support instead of the current practice of doling out distress packages to all the farmers across the board.

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