The issue regarding Pepsico India suing potato farmers in the state of Gujarat for illegally producing and selling a particular potato variety for which the company has registered intellectual property rights to manufacture Lay’s potato chips has been reported by numerous news outlets around the world during the past few days.
According to a report published by The Tribune in India, the Gujarat Government “has now promised to stand by the potato-growing farmers facing libel suits filed by PepsiCo India for alleged unauthorised production and sale of a particular variety of potato for which it claims to have exclusive rights.”
The Tribune reports that Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said “the government would stand by the farmers and try to solve the issue amicably to ensure that the potato-growers were not harmed.” He reportedly added that the government would join the court case as party in favour of the farmers and would also ask PepsiCo to withdraw the current suit and not to file such cases in future.
According to The Tribune report, the company offered the farmers an out-of-court settlement provided they agreed to its conditions that they would purchase the seed for the FC-5 variety of potato only from the company and sell only to the company, and not in the open market.
A PepsiCo India spokesman reportedly said the company had “proposed that they may become part of its collaborative potato farming programme, which will give them access to higher yields, enhanced quality, training in best-in-class practices and better prices”.
And in case they did not wish to join the programme, “they can simply sign an agreement and grow other available varieties of potatoes”.
Pepsico India claims that about 1,200 farmers in Gujarat were producing the FC-5 variety under the agreement and the four against whom the law suit was filed could join the group without facing any court case.