Agri Business

PepsiCo case: Gujarat farmers seek compensation, demand unconditional withdrawal of court cases

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on May 03, 2019

A day after PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd announced its decision to withdraw cases against potato growers in Gujarat, the farmers on Friday demanded compensation for the harassment they have had to face due to the ₹1-crore lawsuits and sought “unconditional” withdrawal of the cases.

Keeping the US-headquartered multinational on the edge, the activists have also called for a nationwide boycott of PepsiCo products till the company actually withdraws the cases unconditionally.

Written assurance

Addressing a press meet in Ahmedabad on Friday, in the presence of activists, three of the farmers being sued sought full details of the discussions between PepsiCo and the Government, as claimed by the company in its Thursday’s announcement. “We would like the State government to reveal the full details of the ongoing discussions with the company since we are demanding an unconditional withdrawal based on Section 39 (1) (iv) of the PPV&FR Act, 2001, and nothing less than that is acceptable to us. No one has approached us from the government for the discussion,” said Bipin Patel, a farmer from Lakshmanpura village of Vadali taluka of Sabarkantha district.

In a statement on Thursday, a PepsiCo spokesperson had stated: “After discussions with the Government, the Company has agreed to withdraw cases against farmers.” On this, the farmer leaders have demanded a written assurance from the company on the compensation and withdrawal conditions. The farmer leaders also cautioned the State government against being influenced by “corporate interests”.

Reiterating their demand for sovereign rights over seeds, the farmer leaders stated that PepsiCo’s intentions need to be closely studied.

“There are concerns about PepsiCo’s intentions. It is high time that Pepsico came up with a clear proposal so that we can read between the lines, too,” said Maganbhai Patel, member of RSS-affiliate farmers’ body Bhartiya Kisan Sangh.

Seed protection

Preparing for a longer battle for the sovereign rights on seeds, farmer leaders and activists came together to form a ‘Beej Adhikar Manch’ (Rights for Seeds Forum), which also includes activists, lawyers, scientists and academicians as its members.

“A first meeting of this ‘manch’ was held in Ahmedabad on Friday and a collective decision was taken for a nationwide boycott of all PepsiCo products. Though PepsiCo had issued public statements, it is yet to withdraw the legal cases. None of the sued farmers have been informed by the company. All that we hear is from the media. We urge the government to ask PepsiCo to give us a written assurance on withdrawal of cases unconditionally and an apology for the harassment,” said Kapil Shah of Jatan Trust, who is the co-ordinator of the ‘manch’.

Meanwhile, a PepsiCo delegation met top Gujarat government officials, including Chief Secretary JN Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Sanjay Prasad and Director-Agriculture Bharat Modi in Gandhinagar on Friday.

Published on May 03, 2019

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