Heat turns up on PepsiCo as RSS arm accuses MNC of coercing farmers

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Published: April 30, 2019 11:33:17 AM

Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convener of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, recently tweeted that the MNC should remember that the whole nation is on the side of the farmers.

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Trouble doesn’t seem to end for PepsiCo as it continues to draw flak in the potato farmers case. Now, RSS’ economic wing Swadeshi Jagran Manch has jumped in to criticise the company for suing Gujarat farmers and then imposing own terms upon them. PepsiCo had proposed “amicable” settlement to the farmers following a court hearing on 26 April 2019 in Ahmedabad. PepsiCo said at the hearing that the farmers can become a party to its potato farming program and sell the produce only to the company. PepsiCo also said that if the farmers decide against joining its program, then they will have to sign an agreement under which, they cannot grow the FC-5 variety potatoes.

Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convener of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, recently tweeted that the MNC should remember that the whole nation is on the side of the farmers and PepsiCo will lose big, eventually. He also accused the company of compelling the farmers to agree to their terms.

Earlier, Congress Treasurer and Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel also said that PepsiCo was in the wrong to drag farmers to the court. He said that PepsiCo’s decision was “ill-advised” and “brazenly wrong”. Ahmed Patel also cited Section 39 of the PPV&FR Act (The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Act) to vouch for the farmers’ innocence. The same was also used by the farmers in their defence.

Global beverage maker PepsiCo had dragged the farmers to the court early in April, claiming infringement upon Intellectual Property as it found the farmers cultivating and selling potatoes of FC-5 variety, which it uses to make Lay’s chips. The company claims to have exclusive rights over the variety in India for its Lay’s chips. The next hearing of the case is due for 12 June 2019 as the two parties are yet to reach an agreement.

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