Slamming the Gujarat government’s stand on the issue of legal suits filed by PepsiCo against potato growers, a rights group in the state stressed that rather than ‘persuading’ farmers to stop sowing particular seed varieties, it should support them in their fight for rights. According to Bij Adhikar Manch (BAM), Gujarat government’s deal with the US multinational company’s Indian arm PepsiCo India Holdings was unacceptable to the growers as the same compromised their freedom of growing seeds and ignored the law of the land.
“We will intensify our stir against PepsiCo, if anything goes against farmers. They don’t require any permission for growing any variety they please, including the registered varieties of potato or any other crop,” said Kapil Shah, coordinator of BAM. He said after emerging as a mediator in this controversial issue, Gujarat government did not consult those who were sued by PepsiCo and didn’t even involve representatives of farmer organisations in talks held with the snack behemoth. Bhartiya Kisan Sangh leader Vithal Dudhatra warned that the government would face farmers’ wrath if it favoured the corporate giant.
The farmers’ rights group has already written to PPV&FR authorities, sending one copy of the same to the CM and another to the state agriculture minister, stating that Section 39(1)(iv) clearly empowers farmers to save, sow, resow, exchange, share and sell harvest, including seeds of any variety even if it is registered.
The only caveat on this was around sales of branded seeds, read the letter. This is a perfect test case to reiterate farmers’ rights in our law, and the government should use the opportunity to the fullest to demonstrate which side it is on,” said Jayesh Patel of Gujarat Khedut Samaj.
PepsiCo India has filed cases against farmers of North Gujarat’s Sabarkantha, Banaskantha and Arvalli districts. As per its claim, the farmers allegedly infringed intellectual property right (IPR) by producing and selling FL 2027 variety of potato for which the company has taken a Plant Variety Certificate (PVC) under PPV&FR Act, 2001.