A bag of PepsiCo Inc. Frito-Lay brand Lays potato chips are displayed for an arranged photograph taken in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)  

PepsiCo Proposes Settlement To Gujarat Potato Farmers Whom They Sued

Food and beverages giant PepsiCo on Friday offered to settle lawsuits against four farmers who it had dragged to court for allegedly illegally growing a variety of potatoes “registered” by the company.

Nine farmers from Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts are being sued by PepsiCo for allegedly growing a variety of potatoes for which it has claimed Plant Variety Protection rights.

During a hearing in the commercial court in Ahmedabad on Friday, the firm offered to settle the dispute if the farmers gave an undertaking to purchase this specific variety of seeds from the company and thereafter sell the potato produced to it.

Senior counsel Anand Yagnik, who appeared for the four farmers of Sabarkantha district, told the court he will discuss this settlement proposal with the farmers and inform the court about the outcome during the next hearing.

Commercial Court Judge MC Tyagi on Friday extended its previous order restricting these farmers from using the patented seeds till the next hearing, which was kept for June 12.

The multinational giant has sought damages of Rs 1 crore from each of the four farmers in its suit filed at the commercial court in Ahmedabad, and Rs 20 lakh from each of the farmers sued at a district court in Modasa town of Arvalli district.

Two days ago, over 190 activists came out in support of these farmers requesting the Union government to ask PepsiCo India to withdraw its “false” cases against Gujarat farmers.

In a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, the 194 signatories sought financial aid and protection of rights of farmers who have been sued for growing and selling a potato variety called FC-5 potato, for which PepsiCo India Holdings claimed to have obtained “exclusive rights in the country in 2016”.