Food and beverages giant PepsiCo India on Thursday said that it has withdrawn all its cases against nine Gujarat farmers who grew its protected potato variety used to make Lays chips, including the cases seeking damages of ₹1.05 crore each from the nine small farmers of Gujarat. The battle between farmers groups and the multinational company moves now from the judiciary to the government’s next actions.
“After discussions with the government, the company has now agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers,” a PepsiCo India spokesman said.
PepsiCo in April sued four farmers for cultivating a potato variety grown exclusively for its popular Lay’s potato chips.
The company’s decision to sue farmers for allegedly growing a variety of the tuber for which it claims plant variety protection (PVP) rights, had led to a public outcry.
In an official statement, PepsiCo India said it has now agreed to withdraw cases against farmers after discussion with the current government.
“We are relying on the said discussions to find a long term and an amicable resolution of all the issues around seed protection,” it read.
It filed cases against nine farmers from Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts in Gujarat for allegedly growing a variety of potatoes for which the company has claimed its PVP rights and had sought damages ranging from a hefty sum of Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
“The company remains deeply committed to the thousands of farmers we have been working with across the country and towards ensuring adoption of best overall farming practices across the country,” the statement said.
The farmers involved said they have sought a token Rs 1 compensation from the Indian arm of the US food and beverages giant PepsiCo for defamation and for being falsely dragged into a case alleging illegal use of a registered potato variety.
Altogether 11 farmers of Gujarat have been sued by the company till now. Two other farmers of Banaskantha district were sued earlier by the company on similar grounds.