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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Registration certificate of potato variety under Pepsico India revoked

Potato plant variety FL-2027 (commercial name FC-5) was registered by PIH in India and the registration granted in February 2016, was valid until January 2031 under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
December 4, 2021 2:11:00 am
potatoAn application seeking revocation of the registration of the potato variety was filed before the statutory authority by Kavitha Kuruganti from Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), a nation-wide network of more than 400 organisations, in June 2019. (Source: pixabay)

Statutory body of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority under the aegis of Union Ministry of Agriculture Friday revoked the registration of a potato variety by Pepsico India Holdings (PIH), which had slapped suits against several farmers in Gujarat for illegally growing, producing and selling the variety “without permission of PIH”.

The civil and infringement suits by PIH against farmers from north Gujarat in 2018 and 2019 had sought damages between 20 lakh to Rs 1.05 crore per farmer. Following uproar from the farming community, supported by farmers’ rights activists, the state government was compelled to step in, assuring the farmers of the state’s support, at the time of the lawsuits.

While the suits against at least nine farmers in Aravalli and Sabarkantha were eventually withdrawn by PIH, an application seeking revocation of the registration of the potato variety was filed before the statutory authority by Kavitha Kuruganti from Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), a nation-wide network of more than 400 organisations, in June 2019.

Potato plant variety FL-2027 (commercial name FC-5) was registered by PIH in India and the registration granted in February 2016, was valid until January 2031 under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001.

Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority while revoking the registration, also rebuked the Registrar under the PPV&FR Act, responsible for being the authority issuing registration certificates, for causing “hardship to farmers and others” despite being the “protector of farmers’ rights” by violating the rules.

The body further added that the need for the revocation application would not have arisen had the Registrar exercised his power “to accept documentation related to the application of registration only after being fully satisfied with the information provided,” instead of accepting “incomplete or obviously incorrect documents.”

The revocation was on multiple grounds as canvassed by Kuruganthi, including the grant of certificate of registration based on incorrect information furnished by PIH, certificate granted to a person not eligible for protection and that the breeder (PIH) did not provide the Registrar with necessary documents required under the Act.

“This is totally unacceptable. The Registrar is hereby directed to take serious note of it and henceforth such instances should not be repeated in the future by the Registry..I direct the Registrar to develop a standardised sheet for evaluation of application for registration of plant varieties in accordance with Act, Rules and Regulations…,” the order by chairperson of the statutory body KV Prabhu notes.

K V Prabhu’s order concludes, “The Registry and the Authority have many lessons to take from this matter as it has unfolded above, so that neither the plant breeders who legitimately deserve to have their rights to be exercised on the varieties bred by them by registering those by the Authority nor the user-farmers who in turn, equally deserve to get their due farmers’ rights protected so that their livelihoods are not put to jeopardy needlessly…”

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