Food and beverages giant PepsiCo India filed petition over nine farmers from Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts of North Gujarat for using its patented (registered) FC5 potato variety, exclusively grown for manufacturing in its famous Lay’s potato chips, which are lower in moisture than other variety, without permission. A PepsiCo Indian spokesman told, “We took judicial recourse against people who were dealing in our registered variety illegally”.
The company further demanded $10 million rupees or nearly $142000 from each accused farmer. But it is an expensive demand for those farmers who own small and independent farms in Gujarat. Gujarat is a leading potato-production region in India. Hence, the farmers are fighting the case.
Bipin Patel, one of the four farmers, said “We have been growing potatoes for many years and never did we face such a problem. We mostly use the seeds saved from one harvest to plant the next year’s crop”. However, they failed to explain how could farmers grow this special variety.
The hearing of the court is on April 26 and Pepsi offered to settle the matter with “either join us or grow other potatoes”. PepsiCo spokesman said only that way they can let go of the case. Also, he said, these farmers have local support.