PepsiCo Decides To Withdraw Case Against The Potato Farmers
After media backlash and public outcry on the PepsiCo’s lawsuit against the Gujarat farmers who were accused of patent infringement the company, PepsiCo has decided to withdraw the case. The decision, reportedly, came after representatives from the company discussed the matter with the government.
In a statement issued by the company, it said that it is relying on this discussion to arrive at ‘a long term and an amicable resolution of all issues around seed protection’.
PepsiCo decides to withdraw case
PepsiCo made the announcement on May 2 after initially accusing the farmers of infringing its patent.
PepsiCo in a formal statement, said, “PepsiCo has been in India for the last 30 years. Over the years, the Company has developed a best in class collaborative potato farming program which has benefited thousands of farmers across the country. The program which included several market awareness initiatives has resulted in farmers getting access to higher yields, enhanced quality, training in best-in-class practices and better prices, all leading to improved livelihoods. To safeguard the larger interest of farmers, PepsiCo India was compelled to take judicial recourse to protect its registered variety. PepsiCo from the very start had also offered an amicable settlement to farmers. After discussions with the Government, the Company has agreed to withdraw cases against farmers. We are relying on the said discussions to find a long term and an amicable resolution of all issues around seed protection. The company remains deeply committed to the thousands of farmers we work with across the country and towards ensuring adoption of best farming practices.”
Kapil Shah of Jatan Trust, who first raised the issue, while speaking to The Logical Indian said, “It has come to our notice through various media outlets that PepsiCo has decided to withdraw the case. However, no formal communication has been made neither to the court, the lawyers nor the activists. We will have to see how this pans out and when the company would actually withdraw the case.”
In April PepsiCo sued nine farmers for growing a patented variety of potato, used to make Lays chips. A fine of Rs 1.05 crore was levied on the farmers. This had given way to a huge public outcry. Activists, farmers and unions sided with the affected farmers. They cited Section 39(1) (iv) of the PPV&FR Act 2001 on Chapter VI on Farmer Rights’, to support their argument.
The Ahmedabad court heard the case on April 26 where PepsiCo offered to settle down with the farmers. The farmers were asked to either stop growing the said variety altogether or if that was not possible, they were asked to enter PepsiCo’s collaborative farming programme, under which farmers would buy seeds from the company and sell the produce back. Replying to the settlement, the lawyer representing the farmers had sought time to consider the offer and reply to the court.