The Hindu reports that in the wake of criticism over its ₹4.2 crore lawsuit against four Gujarati potato farmers, food and beverages giant PepsiCo has offered to settle the case if the farmers stop growing the registered potato variety used in its Lays chips.
In an Ahmedabad civil court on Friday, PepsiCo’s lawyer offered a settlement on these terms: the farmers must give an undertaking that they will not use its registered variety and destroy their existing stocks, or must enter PepsiCo’s collaborative farming programme where farmers buy seeds from the company and sell the produce back to the company.
The lawyer for the farmers said they would need time to consider the offer, and to reply to the court. The next hearing is on June 12.
PepsiCo has invoked Section 64 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 to claim infringement of its rights.
PepsiCo alleged that the farmers were growing a variety of potato namely FL 2027 also called FC5, on which PepsiCo claimed exclusive rights by virtue of a Plant Variety Certificate (PVC) under the said act. The variety is used for the company’s product called Lay’s Potato Chips.
For farmers groups as well as the corporate farming industry, the case is seen as a precedent that could have a far-reaching impact on how other food crops are developed, sown and sold in the country.