The food and beverage giant PepsiCo has withdrawn its case which dragged Gujarat potato farmers to court for alleged rights infringement in potato cultivation in the region.
PepsiCo spokesperson in Thursday announced, – “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,”
This decision applies to the nine farmers PepsiCo has sued for over the last two years for ₹1.05 each for allegedly growing its registered potato variety which is used for Lays chips.
Anand Yagnik, the lawyer representing four farmers from Sabarkantha district who were sued for the huge charge, said “an unconditional withdrawal of litigation would be a great victory for the downtrodden and small farmers against a major corporate power.’
“It is not stated when it will implement its decision,” he said. “It is important that no wrong precedent is set, given that this is a test case which could affect other farmers across the country.”
Although, The company is yet to communicate its decision to the court or to the farmers and their lawyer.
The PepsiCo decision follows criticism from political parties and farmers rights groups, as well as boycott calls on global social media.
PepsiCo sued 9 Indian farmers, for growing their brand potatoes. Each farmer has just a few acres of land, and cannot even afford the legal fees, for "damages" of Rs.10 million ($143,000) from each farmer. We don't need their junk. #BoycottPepsi
— Rita Banerji ✍ ⚖ (@Rita_Banerji) April 27, 2019
— kishan (@kishanv4u) April 29, 2019
However, people welcomed PepsiCo’s withdrawal decision-
Pepsi withdraws Indian potato farmer lawsuits after political pressure. @swadeshimanch welcomes PepsiCo’s move as a moral victory for Indian farmers. MNCs (multi national corporations) need to understand that they must honour Indian laws. https://t.co/eEMd28JvmN
— ASHWANI MAHAJAN (@ashwani_mahajan) May 2, 2019
Last week, the Gujrat government declared it’s supported in favor of farmers who were sued by the PepsiCo. The food and beverage giant had to bow down citing government’s support to farmers.
According to the section 39 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Act 2001, a farmer is allowed “to save, use, sow, resow, or sell his farm produce as long as he’s not using branded seeds.”