PepsiCo India, the Indian subsidiary of the US food and beverage giant, on Thursday said that it will withdraw its lawsuits against nine potato farmers of Gujarat who had been issued legal notices seeking damages for “illegally” growing and selling a potato variety registered by the company exclusively for its popular Lay’s potato chips.
A statement issued by PepsiCo India’s spokesperson stated: “PepsiCo from the very start had offered an amicable settlement to farmers. After discussions with the (Gujarat) 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.”
“PepsiCo has been in India for the last 30 years. Over the years, the company has developed a best in class collaborative potato farming program which has benefited thousands of farmers across the country. The programme which included several market awareness initiatives has resulted in farmers getting access to higher yields, enhanced quality, training in best-in-class practices and better prices, all leading to improved livelihoods. To safeguard the larger interest of farmers, PepsiCo India was compelled to take judicial recourse to protect its registered variety,” it added.
The announcement comes a day after the BJP government in the state began negotiations with the American MNC for resolving the issue following growing chorus of farm rights activists and Opposition Congress.
Meanwhile, a group of 192 farmers’ rights activists and NGOs termed the PepsiCo’s announcement to withdraw the cases as a major victory, “provided it is unconditional”. They also demanded that the affected farmers be compensated by PepsiCo India.