- The multinational food and beverages giant PepsiCo India said the farmers could either join the group of growers who exclusively grow the FC5 variety or cultivate other varieties.
- The farmers are from Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts.
- PepsiCo India is seeking damages of Rs 1 crore from each of the four farmers of Sabarkantha.
- Hundreds of activists have come up in support of the farmers and requested the government to ask the company to withdraw its ‘false’ cases.
PepsiCo has sued nine farmers in Gujarat for alleged ‘rights infringement’ on the grounds that they ‘allegedly’ grew its registered FC5 potato variety used to make Lays chips. The multinational food and beverages giant in an effort to settle the lawsuits against the farmers said the farmers could either join the group of growers who exclusively grow the FC5 variety or cultivate other varieties.
The nine farmers are from Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts. Appearing for the four farmers of Sabarkantha district, senior counsel Anand Yagnik told the court that he will discuss the settlement proposal with the farmers and inform the court about the outcome.
PepsiCo India is seeking damages of Rs1 crore from each of the four farmers of Sabarkantha and Rs 20 lakh from each of the farmers sued from Aravalli district.
The farmers revealed to the media that they had only followed the age-old practice of mutual exchange of information and good quality seeds among various farmers. They added that they were not aware about the name of the brand or any exclusive rights involved.
Hundreds of activists have come up in support of the farmers and requested the government to ask the company to withdraw its ‘false’ cases against the Gujarat farmers. The Gujarat government is also backing the farmers.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader, Ahmed Patel said corporate interests cannot dictate what farmers must or must not cultivate. Taking to Twitter, Patel said Pepsi’s decision to take Gujarat’s potato grower farmers to court is ill-advised and brazenly wrong.
He said “It is in violation of the farmers rights under PPVFR Act. The state government shouldn’t keep its eyes shut.”
Nitin Patel, the Deputy Chief Minister said the government stand by the farmers and will try to solve the issue amicably to ensure that the potato-growers were not harmed. Patel said the government would join the court case as party in favour of the farmers and would ask PepsiCo to withdraw the current suit and not to file such cases in the future.