PepsiCo Sues 4 Gujarati Farmers For ₹1.05 Crores Each For Growing ‘Lays’ Potatoes, Then Offers To Settle

Farmers have been one of the most discriminated groups in our country. We have seen several farmer’s marches and protests being held in recent times. Reason? The government having failed to protect their interests as promised. From severely low payments to the inability of solving drought problems directly affecting them, the plight of farmers don’t seem to end.

Recently, the multi-billion dollar company PepsiCo has sued four Gujrati small-scale farmers with a fine of Rs. 1.05 Crores each for growing a variety of potatoes used to make Lays chips.

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According to sources, PepsiCo has claimed that the farmers were growing and selling FL-2027, popularly known as FC5, a potato variety which is exclusively registered under their name, therefore making the farmer’s act illegal.

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Asking for help regarding the matter, the farmers have approached the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA), asking them to speak on behalf of the farmers in court.

“We have been growing potatoes for a long time and we didn’t face this problem ever, as we’ve mostly been using the seeds saved from one harvest to plant the next year’s crop,” said Bipin Patel, one of the four sued farmers.

They claimed to be unaware of PepsiCo’s “intellectual proprietorship” over the potato variety.

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Justifying the act of suing the farmers, PepsiCo said that they are trying to “safeguard the larger interest of thousands of farmers that are engaged with its collaborative potato farming program.”

However, wanting to arrive at a settlement, PepsiCo proposed a ‘collaborative potato farming programme’ for the four farmers.

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Either the farmers can completely stop producing the mentioned potato variety, or they could collaborate with PepsiCo and buy the specific variety of seeds only from them and then sell the potatoes produced to them.

“This programme gives them access to higher yields, enhanced quality, training in best-in-class practices and better prices”, PepsiCo mentioned in a statement given to the court.

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While the case is still ongoing and hasn’t yet arrived at a judgement, it is shocking how such a major company as PepsiCo can sue low-scale farmers with a huge amount!

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