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PepsiCo Case: Farmers Seek Compensation for Harassment, Demand Unconditional Withdrawal of Lawsuits

potato

Just a day after PepsiCo Inc. announced to drop case against potato cultivators in Gujarat, farmers have demanded compensation for the harassment they had to face because of the Rs. 1-crore lawsuits and wanted “unconditional” withdrawal of the cases.

Not only farmers but many activists have also called for a nationwide boycott of PepsiCo products till the firm actually withdraws the cases unconditionally.

While addressing media in Ahmedabad on 3rd May 2019, in presence of the activists, three of the farmers who were sued demanded full details of the deliberations between PepsiCo and Government, as claimed by the firm on 2nd May 2019. A farmer from Lakshmanpura village of Vadali taluka of Sabarkantha district, Bipin Patel said, “We would like the State government to give full details of the continuing discussions with PepsiCo since we are demanding an unconditional withdrawal based on Section 39 (1) (iv) of the PPV&FR Act, 2001 & nothing less than that is acceptable to us. No one from the government side approached us for the discussion”.

A PepsiCo spokesperson on 2nd May 2019 said, “After having discussions with the state government, the firm agreed to withdraw lawsuits against farmers.” On this, the farmer leaders have asked for a written assurance from PepsiCo on the compensation and withdrawal conditions. The farmer leaders also warned the State government against being influenced by “corporate interests”.

Repeating their demand for sovereign rights over seeds, the farmer leaders said that the company’s intention needs to be closely monitored.

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

Seed protection

Preparing for a longer fight for the sovereign rights on seeds, activists and farmer leaders came together to launch a ‘Beej Adhikar Manch’ or Rights for Seeds Forum that also includes lawyers, academicians scientists etc.

Kapil Shah of Jatan Trust, co-ordinator of Beej Adhikar manch said, “A first meeting of this ‘manch’ was held on Friday in Ahmedabad and a joint decision was taken for a nationwide boycott of all PepsiCo products. Although PepsiCo had issued public statements, it is yet to withdraw the lawsuits. None of the sued farmers have been informed by the firm. All that we hear is from the media. Hence we request the government to urge PepsiCo to give a written assurance on withdrawal of lawsuits unconditionally & an apology for harassment”.

In the meantime, a PepsiCo delegation met with topmost Gujarat government officials that included Chief Secretary JN Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Sanjay Prasad & Director-Agriculture Bharat Modi in Gandhinagar yesterday.



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