Gujarat govt backs 9 potato farmers fighting against PepsiCo.
Tending to the political pressures, the Gujarat government has decided to support the nine potato farmers who are fighting against PepsiCo. The food and beverages giant has filed a ₹4.2 crore lawsuit against them for allegedly infringing its rights by growing their registered potato variety used in Lays chips. The company has alleged the farmers of growing the FL2027 or FC5 variety of potatoes for which it has claimed Plant Variety Protection (PVP) rights.
Not many hours after Ahmed Patel, the senior Congress leader’s statement bashed both PepsiCo and the state government that they could not keep their eyes shut, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel has stated that the government decided to join as a party in the lawsuits filed by the company.
Activists in Gujarat have objected to PepsiCo's action and has warned the company that it would face dire consequences if it did not withdraw the case against the farmers from Sabarkantha and Aravali districts. While four farmers have been sued with damage claim of Rs 1 crore each, five others have been sued with damage claim of Rs 20 lakh.
In a press meet on Saturday, Ahmed Patel termed PepsiCo’s action as brazenly wrong one and as many as 192 farmer organisations, including the RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. Meanwhile, PepsiCo has already offered a settlement with four of the farmers during a hearing of the case at an Ahmedabad commercial court on Friday. But has laid a condition that they would not use the patented variety of potato seeds in the future. The company said it was compelled to take the legal recourse.
As the court fixed the next hearing for June 12, senior counsel Anand Yagnik, appearing for the farmers, stated that they would deliberate over the company’s offer for settlement and file a reply. North Gujarat has come to represent the potato bowl of the country producing more than 33 lakh tonnes from 1.21 lakh hectares.