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India’s potato row: Govt working on solution that favours farmers

According to a report published today by The Hindu’s Business Line, the Gujarat government is working for an out-of-court settlement of cases filed by PepsiCo against nine farmers for growing a variety of potato “registered” by the food and beverages giant, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said Wednesday.

Nine farmers from Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts in Gujarat state have been sued by the multinational in two separate courts for allegedly growing a variety of potatoes (used for making Lay’s brand of chips) for which PepsiCo has claimed plant variety protection (PVP) rights and sought damages of as much as ₹1 crore from each of them [roughly US$145,000].

“The government is trying to ensure that the issue is resolved outside the court properly and as per the law, in a manner that it is helpful to farmers. The Agriculture Secretary and Chief Secretary have been informed regarding the same,” Patel told reporters.

According to the Business Line report, farmer rights activists have claimed the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Right (PPVFR) Act, 2001, which has been invoked by PepsiCo in its lawsuits against the farmers, has a section that protects agriculturists in such cases.

Read the full report here