PepsiCo, an American multinational which produces soft drinks and snacks, had sued nine Gujarati potato farmers. However, the Gujarat government had taken a stand for the farmers saying it will join the ongoing legal battle to fight for the potato farmers. In the aftermath, the company had withdrawn the cases. In what can be seen as a major setback to PepsiCo, the patent for a potato variety that was earlier exclusively grown for PepsiCo’s potato chips, Lay’s has been revoked over a petition filed by a farmer’s rights activist.
Gujarat Farmers beat PepsiCo:
Reportedly, an order passed by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Authority on Friday observed that PepsiCo’s rights over an exclusive potato variety has been revoked. The development has come after a two-year-long struggle of a farmers’ rights activist named Kavitha Kuruganti. Kavitha had filed a petition with the PPVFR for revocation of the patent as India does not allow any kind of intellectual rights or patent to seed varieties.
Kuruganti while interacting with the media expressed her delight and asserted, “This judgment is a historic victory for the farmers of India. It should also prevent any other seed or food corporation from transgressing legally granted farmers’ seed freedoms in India.”
A PepsiCo spokesperson told that “They are aware of the order and are reviewing it. “We are aware of the order passed by the PPVFR Authority and are in the process of reviewing the same.”
PepsiCo vs Gujarat Farmers:
The controversy began in April 2019 when the company sued nine farmers asking them to pay Rs 4.02 crores for ‘infringing its rights’ by growing the potato variety used in Lays chips, which is a product of the company. The company also filed a lawsuit and the case was to be heard in Ahmedabad court.
After the Gujarat government decided to support the farmers, the company had withdrawn the cases saying, “After discussions with the Government, the Company has agreed to withdraw cases against farmers.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.”
Potato production in Gujarat has grown at a very healthy rate. It produces 33 lakh tonnes from the 1.21 hectares of land dedicated to potato farming. The pro-farmer stance of the Gujarat government helped agriculture to grow at a double-digit rate. The farmers in Gujarat are in a better condition compared to the condition of farmers in any other state of the country.
Better late than never. Gujarat Farmers have beaten PepsiCo and has set an example of what real farmers are.