Gujarat: Pepsico, owner of potato chips brand Lay’s, has sued three farmers in the state claiming that they have been illegally growing and selling a variety of potato that is used by the giant for making chips.
PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd has complained to the court that it uses the registered variety of potatoes called FL 2027, which is a hybrid of FL 1867 and Wischip variety of which it has the sole right to grow and hence to manufacture the chips. They are a registered breeder of such variety of potatoes under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001.
Meanwhile, on the company’s request, Paras Sukhwania an advocate has been appointed as the court commissioner by the commercial court judge Moolchand Tyagi to conduct an inquiry into the dispute and prepare a report regarding the same. Last week, the commercial court also stayed the farmers – Chabilbhai Patel, Vinod Patel, Haribhai Patel – from growing and selling the potatoes till April 26th while the company has collected samples and sent them for verification to the in-house laboratory as well as to the ICAR and Central Potato Research Institute at Shimla for DNA analysis.
As per reports, after hearing the company’s complain the court said, “At this stage, it appears that the plaintiff has a prima facie case in its favour.” It was also mentioned that if the farmers don’t discontinue this practice of growing and selling the registered potatoes, the company might suffer an irreparable loss.
On Friday, during a court hearing in the Indian state of Gujrat, a lawyer for PepsiCo (PEP) offered to drop the case, provided the farmers join other farmers in the company’s licensed cultivation program.
According to a CNN report, a PepsiCo spokesperson said: “We told them, why don’t you join our program and we will provide seeds… Either join us or grow other potatoes. That way, we are willing to let go of the case.” The farmers’ lawyer has asked for time to consider the offer. The next court hearing is due June 12.