CV News/ Friday, May 10, 2019
PepsiCo India Holdings Ltd, which withdrew their legal suits against the farmers at the Commercial Court of Ahmedabad and the district court of Modasa, have done it under intense public and political pressure, farmers’ rights groups have asserted in a statement, warning, this in no way means that the public campaign is over. The battle is only half won on the field. The Government of India maintained an ominous silence on the issue, taking cover of the matter being sub judice. Addressing media, their advocate Anand Yagnik stated that these farmers are into subsistence farming and not commercial farming. It must be kept in mind that in India the right of farmer to cultivate land and agricultural produce is superior to the right of MNCs seeking protection in the name of registration. The law of India allows farmers to use even registered seeds and take produce. Kapilbhai Shah, Coordinator, Beej Adhikar Manch, a newly formed platform to protect farmers’ seed sovereignty, recalled, when PepsiCo India made an application in February 2012 to the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority for the registration of a particular potato variety, it had given a Declaration that it shall abide by all the provisions and guidelines of the PPV&FR Act 2001. It is highly objectionable that having agreed to compliances of registration, the company tried to find ‘long term amicable solution to protect its variety’ with the help of government. Dr Rajendra Khimani, President of Gujarat Association of Agricultural Sciences, said any reference to some discussions that PepsiCo India was having with government was not acceptable, when such discussions did not involve the affected farmers and farmers’ organisations and when there was no need for such discussions in the first instance. Khimani added, the Gujarat government can neither persuade nor dictate to farmers of this state that they need to take permission from some company that is claiming exclusive rights which then means that the government itself would be misleading the farmers on the law of the land.