Pepsico to hold meeting with Gujarat govt

Gandhinagar, May 3 (GCBusiness) Snacks and beverages maker PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd will hold a meeting with the Gujarat government on Friday, a day after the company decided to withdraw lawsuits filed against potato farmers of the state.

Senior officials of the Indian wing of the PepsiCo will hold a meeting with the state government.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said that the Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary (Agriculture) would participate in the meeting. If possible, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani would also remain present during the meeting.

To a query, Mr Patel said as the company has already announced the withdrawal of lawsuits demanding compensation, farmers will not be present in the meeting.

Notably, Pepsico India had on Thursday announced to withdraw lawsuits filed against farmers for allegedly growing a potato variety owned by the company without its permission.

The company accused the farmers of infringing its rights over the seed variety, which it uses in Lay’s crisps.

The case filed last month is being withdrawn after the assurance from the government for a long-term amicable solution.

The meeting is likely to discuss various related issues.

The company had sued the four farmers from Vadali Taluka in Sabarkantha district in North Gujarat and sought a compensation of Rs one crore from each one of them.

On April 26, the company had offered to stop pursuing the suit if the farmers agreed to join the group of ryots doing potato farming for it. The court had fixed the next date of hearing on June 12.

Pepsico’s Indian subsidiary had filed lawsuits against the farmers earlier this month for cultivating FC5 variety of potato for which it has obtained plant variety protection rights till 2031.

Notably, farmer unions and activists were opposing Pepsico for filing the case. They have even alleged that the US company, illegally using private detectives, filmed the farmers for filing the case. The company had sought damages of $143,000 (Rs one crore) from each farmer.

The company had in the court said that it was compelled to take the judicial recourse as a last resort to safeguard the larger interest of thousands of farmers that are engaged with its collaborative potato farming program. It had said as part of its offer that it would not be seeking any compensation if the farmers agree to join its cultivation program.

Districts like Sabarkantha, Banaskantha and Aravalli in North Gujarat have become a hub of potato farming. Many of the farmers sell their potato to various chips and other snacks maker companies.

Via UNI-India

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