Gujarat govt backs potato farmers; here’s what Pepsico offered

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Published: April 29, 2019 2:35:52 PM

PepsiCo had sued 9 Gujarat farmers under infringement of intellectual property right, earlier in April.

PepsiCo, Rashtriya Kishan Parishad, Rashtriya Kishan Parishad protest, lays chips, lays potato, PepsiCo India, potato growers, Ahmed Patel, BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad,  Pravin TogadiaPepsiCo had filed legal suits against nine potato growers for alleged violation of intellectual property rights. (Reuters)

In their fight against PepsiCo, Gujarat’s potato farmers have found support from the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress party. Media reports quoted Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel saying that the government will join as a party in the lawsuit filed against the farmers. The next hearing of the case is pending for 12 June 2019.

Following the Friday’s hearing in an Ahmedabad court, Ahmed Patel, Rajya Sabha MLA, tweeted that PepsiCo’s decision to pull farmers to the court was ill-advised. He cited the same section of the PPV&FR Act that the farmers have been using in their defence.

However, he is not the only one fuming over PepsiCo’s decision. BJP spokesperson from Delhi unit — Tajinder Singh Pal Bagga — also expressed displease with the MNC’s decision. He tweeted that a boycott campaign for PepsiCo is on the cards if the company does not withdraw the case.

“The State government will join the ongoing legal case on the side of the farmers … the decision to support farmers in the matter was taken at the highest level in order to protect the interests of the farmers,” The Hindu reported a govt official as saying.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo has issued a statement stating that it has offered an out-of-court settlement to the farmers. Under the settlement, PepsiCo has proposed that the farmers become a part of the MNC’s potato farming program. In case they decide against it, farmers will have to grow other varieties of the potato. The company spokesperson also told Financial Express Online that the lawyers representing the farmers’ have assured that they will get back to the company regarding the proposal. However, the two parties involved have not reached on an agreement so far.

PepsiCo had sued 9 Gujarat farmers under infringement of intellectual property right, earlier in April. The Gujarat farmers were growing PepsiCo’s variant FC-5 potato over which, the company claims to have exclusive rights in India.

The farmers, on the other hand, had cited Section 39 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 (PPV&FR Act) in their defence.

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