Farmers groups ask Government to step in to assert farmers rights in PepsiCo Vs. Gujarat Potato Farmers

7:32 pm in News by Kavitha

To:                                                                                                             April 24, 2019

 

1. Dr K V Prabhu,

Chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority,

Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare,

Government of India,

NASC Complex, DPS Marg, Opp- Todapur Village,

New Delhi – 110002

Email: chairperson-ppvfra@nic.in, kv.prabhu@gov.in

 

2. Dr R C Agrawal,

Registrar General,

Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers Rights Authority (PPVFRA),

Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare,

Government of India,

NASC Complex, DPS Marg, Opp- Todapur Village,

New Delhi – 110002

Email: rg-ppvfra@nic.in

 

Dear Dr KV Prabhu and Dr RC Agrawal,

Sub: Legal challenge from PepsiCo / PepsiCo India to farmers’ rights under PPV&FR Act, 2001 – need for the Authority to formally step in – reg.

Greetings!

This is to bring to your urgent notice our serious concerns and facts around legal suits that are going against farmers on the matter of plant varietal rights.

These are being filed by PepsiCo, a US multinational company against potato farmers in Gujarat, with regard to alleged infringement of its rights under PPV&FR Act, 2001. For us, this is a matter of concern with regard to this set of farmers who have been sued and intimidated, as well as others who could be similarly bullied by seed and food corporations through vexatious litigation in the assertion of plant breeder rights.

We are aware of at least 9 farmers, belonging to Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts of Gujarat having been sued by this MNC’s Indian subsidiary, which is PepsiCo India Holdings (PIH) Pvt Ltd.  A crucial next hearing is coming up on 26th of April 2019 at the Commercial Court in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, after an ex-parte interim injunction order has been passed against the farmers, upon the company making a case for “irreparable losses”. The cases are specifically with regard to a particular potato variety with a denomination of FL-2027, reportedly known as FC-5 potato, for which the company claims to have obtained exclusive PVP rights in India in 2016 (valid till 2031) from the Authority. PIH is making out infringement cases with its own interpretation of Section 64 of the PPV&FR Act.

As per the information that we have gathered so far, these farmers are small farmers holding around 3-4 acres on an average, and had grown a potato crop from farm-saved seed after they accessed the potato seed locally in 2018. At this point of time, it is not clear if the farmers were aware of what they had grown and even if they did, that is immaterial when it comes to the statutory rights that they have, as we show later in this letter.

PepsiCo apparently got a tip-off that the farmers were growing “its registered variety” of FL-2027 and in a completely unacceptable manner, hired a private detective agency to pose as potential buyers in front of the sued farmers, to take secret video footage and collect samples from farmers’ fields sans disclosing its real intent. Later on, PepsiCo India Holdings got the samples tested in its own laboratory and also sent the same to ICAR-CPRI, Shimla and got reports confirming that the varieties being grown by the farmers are indeed FL-2027 or FC-5.

Armed with this information, and presenting an estimated damage of more than one crore rupees against each farmer, the MNC filed legal suits against 4 farmers in early April 2019 (and we came to know later on that similar cases were filed against 5 other farmers in another district in Gujarat last year and there could be more) and PIH even obtained injunction orders from the Court.

Everything about this entire operation is in fact against the law, and it is not the farmers who are violating the law, but the company. The PPV&FR Act has always been projected as a law to protect farmers’ rights. The protection ought not be tied to only when farmers register their varieties with the Authority.

As you know, the Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers Rights Act was enacted in India as a sui generis framework at the national level, after India had signed on to the WTO TRIPS in 1995.

As is well known, the PPV&FR Act 2001 has upheld the apriori rights of farmers of the country, by explicitly stating under Section 39 (1) (iv) the following:

Chapter VI

Farmers’ Rights: Sec. 39 (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act

(iv) a farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into the force of this Act, provided that the farmer shall not be entitled to sell branded seed of a variety protected under this Act.

It is important to note and underscore the importance of this qualifying statement, which says “notwithstanding anything contained in this Act” which means that this clause is more important than clauses that provided exclusive rights to a registrant, and also that farmers are entitled to apriori rights and practices by virtue of the line on “(protection) in the same manner as he was entitled to, before the coming into the force of this Act”. Both these indicate that farmers’ rights are squarely upheld by this Act and are non-compromisable.

Further, even the caveat around sale of “branded seed” of a registered variety which is protected under the Act is with regard to sale of SEED, that too in a branded fashion, which in the current case of Gujarat farmers is not even applicable.

The legislative intent to safeguard farmers must be upheld through a harmonious reading of sections 28, 39 and 64. There is also Section 42 which deals with protection in the case of innocent infringement that can be operationalised and made real.

We believe that the intimidation and legal harassment of farmers is happening because farmers are not fully aware of the rights contained in this statute. Also, in all PVCs granted to non-farmers, there has been no reiteration of such non-negotiable rights of farmers vis-à-vis the breeders. Plant Breeders Rights granted in India are meant to be unique and different from those granted anywhere else due to the farmers’ rights orientation and provisions of the law.

It is in this context that we urge the PPV&FR Authority, which as per Section 8(1) of the Act has the duty to protect the rights of farmers, to immediately take up the following:

  1. 1.       Put out a public statement, which should also be made a Submission to the Commercial Court and High Court in Ahmedabad where the farmers are being sued, explaining the farmers’ rights as enshrined in the PPV&FR Act 2001;
  2. 2.       Write to PepsiCo India Holdings, asking it to withdraw its false and untenable cases against the farmers;
  3. 3.       Provide from the National Gene Fund the costs of legal suits that the farmers are having to face, until the time that the cases are withdrawn by PepsiCo;
  4. 4.       Mention on all Certificates of Registration, in the same manner as Section 47 (on compulsory licensing) is mentioned, Section 39 and other relevant sections too.
  5. Issue a notification that no company can trespass into a farmer’s field without due intimation of the local district agriculture office and the farmer’s prior informed consent.

We also recognise that farmers rights under the Act can be upheld better and bio-piracy prevented if Section 8 (c) of PPV&FR Act 2001 is operationalised fully in letter and spirit.

Sincerely,

Sd/- for all signatories here

 

(Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture)

Phone: 8880067772

 

  1. A K Davison, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association and South India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements, Kerala
  2. Aakar Patel, Amnesty India, Bangalore
  3. Adv. Sivakumar, Nalla Sandhai, Tamil Nadu
  4. Afreen Khan, Advocate, High Court of Bombay, Mumbai
  5. Afsar Jafri, Policy Researcher on Agriculture and Trade, New Delhi
  6. Ajay Etikala, Safe food activist, New Delhi
  7. Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, State President, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Punjab
  8. Akash Badave, Bhoomgaadi Farmer Producer Company, Chattisgarh
  9. Ambubhai Patel, National Vice President, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Gujarat
  10. Anand Shah, Aanando, Paldi, Ahmedabad
  11. Anant Trivedi, Build India Group, New Delhi
  12. Ananthasayanan, Safe Food Alliance, Chennai
  13. Anil K Singh, Secretary General, South Asian Network for Social and Agricultural Development (SANSAD), New Delhi
  14. Anirudh Vashisht, Safe food activist, Sunam, Punjab
  15. Anuradha Talwar, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity, Kolkata
  16. Apoorva Oza, Agakhan Rural Support Programme, Ahmedabad
  17. Arun Chandra Ambatipudi, Founding Trustee and Advisor, Chetna Organic, Hyderabad
  18. Arun Dike, Rangwasa Institute of BioVillage, Indore, Madhya Pradesh
  19. Aruna Rodrigues, Sunray Harvesters, Mhow, Madhya Pradesh
  20. Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan (MKSS), Rajasthan
  21. Avik Saha, Jai Kisan Andolan and Swaraj Abhiyan, Delhi
  22. Ayantika Das, Focus on the Global South, New Delhi
  23. Baburam Sharma, President, All India Krantikari Kisan Sabha (AIKKS)
  24. Badagalapura Nagendra, President, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
  25. Badribhai Joshi, Shantigram Nirman Mandal, Dist Bharuch, Gujarat
  26. Balaji Shankar, Tharchaarbu Iyakkam, Tamil Nadu
  27. Bharat Dogra, Independent journalist and writer, Delhi
  28. Bharat Jambucha, Amrut krushi Ahar Pariwar, Bhavnagar
  29. Bharat Kothari, Shrenikkumar & Co, Deesa, Gujarat
  30. Chaitanya Bhatt, Lokmitra, Dhedhuki, Dist: Rajkot, Gujarat
  31. Chamarasa Mali Patil, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangh
  32. Chhaaya Datar, MAKAAM Maharashtra
  33. Chithra Viswanathan, concerned citizen, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  34. Chukki Nanjundaswamy, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
  35. CK Janu, Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, Kerala
  36. Com. Hannan Mollah, General Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (36 Canning Lane)
  37. Debjeet Sarangi, Living Farms, Odisha
  38. Deepak Suchde, Malpani Trust, Bajawada, Madhya Pradesh
  39. Devesh Patel, Madhya Gujarat Sajiv Kheti Samaj Dist Kheda, Gujarat
  40. Dhan Singh Sherawat, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Maharashtra
  41. Dilnavaz Variava, Former President WWF India & Former Vice President Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai
  42. Dr Ashish Mittal, General Secretary, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS)
  43. Dr Biswajit Dhar, Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  44. Dr C Ramachandraiah, Social Scientist, Hyderabad
  45. Dr Chandrashekar, Doctors Organic Commune, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu
  46. Dr D Narasimha Reddy, Retd. Professor of Economics & Former Dean of School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  47. Dr Debal Deb, Basudha and CINTDIS, Odisha
  48. Dr Devinder Sharma, Agriculture Policy Analyst and Writer, Chandigarh
  49. Dr Hema Swaminathan, IIM Bangalore
  50. Dr K K Krishnamurti, President, Indian Society for Certification of Organic Products, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
  51. Dr K S Varaprasad, Former Director, ICAR-IIOR and Senior Consultant, APAARI, Thailand
  52. Dr Mira Shiva, Initiative for Healty & Equity in Society and Doctors for Food and Bio Safety, New Delhi.
  53. Dr Nandita Shah, SHARAN India, Auroville, Tamil Nadu
  54. Dr Ponnammal Natarajan, Retd Dean, Anna University, Chennai
  55. Dr Poonam Pandey, Ph.D, DST-STI Policy Research Fellow, Indian Institue of Science, Bangalore
  56. Dr Prajit K Basu, Professor, Dept of Philosophy and Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences and Centre for Knowledge Culture and Innovation Studies, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  57. Dr Rajendra Khimani, Gujarat Association of Agricultural Scientists, Ahmedabad
  58. Dr Rajinder Chaudhary, Kudarti Kheti Abhiyan, Haryana
  59. Dr Shekhar Deepak Singh, Chinese University of Hong Kong
  60. Dr Sudarshan Iyengar, Former Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith and Concerned Citizen, Valsad, Gujarat
  61. Dr Suhas Kolhekar, National Alliance of People’s Movement, Pune, Maharashtra
  62. Dr Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign, New Delhi
  63. Dr V Jeevanantham, State President, Tamilnadu Green Movement, Tamil Nadu
  64. Dr V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Telangana
  65. Dr Virendra Vidrohi, General Secretary, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), New Delhi
  66. Dr VT Sundaramurthy, Retd ICAR scientist, Tamil Nadu
  67. Dr. Dinesh Patel, Sardar Farm, Kathwada, Ahmedabd, Gujarat
  68. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, New Delhi
  69. Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, Human Rights Activist and writer, Gujarat
  70. Gopi Deva, OFM, Chennai
  71. Gurmukh Singh, Kudrat Hut, Batala, Punjab
  72. Gurnam Singh Charuni, President, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Haryana
  73. Gursher Singh & Ranjodh Singh, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Amritsar
  74. Gurvinder Sharma, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Faridkot
  75. Harikant Gupta, student, Azim Premji University, Bangalore
  76. Harinesh Pandya, Janpath Network, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  77. Hem Khosla, Organic Matters, Jalandhar
  78. Himakiran Anugula, Thondaimandalam Foundation, Tamil Nadu
  79. Himanshu Limbasiya, Vanaganga, Rajkot, Gujarat
  80. Hitesh Virvadia, Manilal Parasottam Das, Deesa, Gujarat
  81. Jagannathan, Nalla keerai, Thiuvellore
  82. Jagdish Singh, State President, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Madhya Pradesh
  83. Jagpreet Singh, BioAppetito, Chandigarh
  84. Jayant Verma, Vice Chairman, All India Agragami Kisan Sabha (AIAKS)
  85. Jogender Singh Ugraha, BKU Ekta Ugraha, Punjab
  86. K M Rajegowda, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
  87. K T Gangadhar, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
  88. K V Rajkumar, South Indian Sugarcane Growers Association
  89. K. Jagadeesan, Advisor, Federation of Tamil Nadu Rice Mill Owners Association
  90. K. Sella Muthu, President, Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association
  91. Kamaljeet Singh Hayer, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Muktsar
  92. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Mumbai
  93. Kannaiyan Subramaniam, Secretary, South India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM)
  94. Kapil Shah, Jatan, Vadodara, Gujarat
  95. Karpagam, organic farmer, Point Return, Maduranthagam, Tamil Nadu
  96. Kavita Srivastava, Dipa Sinha and Aysha, Right to Food Campaign, New Delhi
  97. Kavitha Kuruganti, ASHA, Bangalore, Karnataka
  98. Kavitha Srinivasan, MAKAAM Karnataka, Bangalore
  99. Kiran Vissa, Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Hyderabad
  100. Krishna Prasad, Sahaja Samrudha, Karnataka
  101. Kumar, Managing Trustee, Nammalvar Ecological Research and Training Centre (Vanagam), Karur, Tamil Nadu
  102. Lalitha Krishnamurthy, concerned citizen, Tumakuru, Karnataka
  103. Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group (ESG), Bangalore
  104. M S Selvaraj, Vivasaigal Thoilarlagal Munnetra Sangam (VTMS), Tamil Nadu
  105. Madhuri Krishnaswamy, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Madhya Pradesh
  106. Maj Gen. SG Vombatkere (Retd), Mysuru, Karnataka
  107. Manoj Solanki, Ramkrushna Trust, Bhuj, Gujarat
  108. Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Hyderabad
  109. Mihir Paul, Secretariat Member, All India Samyukta Kisan Sabha
  110. Mithun Shah, Aryasanskruti, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  111. N Jayaram, PUCL, Bangalore
  112. Nallagounder, Coordinator, Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Tamil Nadu
  113. Natasa Crnkovic, President, Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  114. Nilesh Desai, Beej Swaraj Abhiyan, Madhya Pradesh
  115. P. Chennaiah, APVVU, Andhra Pradesh
  116. Pamayan, Thaalanmai Uzhavar Iyakam, Tamil Nadu
  117. Panika, Architect Designs, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  118. Pankaj Jain, Safe food activist, Jalandhar
  119. Pankaj Pathak, Safe food activist, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
  120. Paresh Sheth, Sheth Brothers, Surat
  121. Parminder Singh, IT for Change, Bangalore
  122. Parthasarathy VM, Thiruvallur Farmers Coordination Committee, Tamil Nadu
  123. Parul Zaveri, Kanika Organic Farm, Gujarat
  124. Ponnu Thai, Kalanjium Women Farmers’ Association, Tamil Nadu
  125. Prafulla Samantara, NAPM, Odisha
  126. Prakash Sandasa, Prakashchandra & Co, Deesa, Gujarat
  127. Prakash Shah, Kohinoor Auto, Deesa, Gujarat
  128. Prasant Mohanty, NIRMAN, Bhubaneswar
  129. Priyanka Gupta, Safe food activist, Ludhiana
  130. R R Srinivasan, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Chennai
  131. R Selvam, Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation, Erode
  132. Radha Holla Brar, Concerned citizen and Member, RTFC, JSA, New Delhi
  133. Radhika Rammohan, Restore, Chennai
  134. Raghav Sharan Sharma, Chairman, All India Agragami Kisan Sabha (AIAKS)
  135. Rahul Saxena, Safe food activist, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh
  136. Rahul Sharma, Safe food activist, Chandigarh
  137. Raja Sankar, Sriram Foods and Madhu Farms, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
  138. Rajani Patel, Sabakantha Sajiv Kheti Samaj, Modasa, Gujarat
  139. Rajariga, President, Women’s Wing, Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association
  140. Rajbeer Singh Jadaun, State President, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Uttar Pradesh
  141. Rajeev Kohli, Swadeshi Haat Gurdaspur, Gurdaspur, Punjab
  142. Rajesh Krishnan, Thirunelly Agri Producer Co. Ltd, Wayanad
  143. Rajiv Gupta & Rakesh Kharbanda, Kudrat Hut, Ludhiana
  144. Rajni Dave, Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal
  145. Rakesh Prasad, Gnovations Technologies Pvt Ltd, Delhi
  146. Rakesh Tikait, National Spokesperson, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU)
  147. Ramasubramanian, Samanvaya Consulting, Chennai
  148. Ramchandra Patel, Surtapi Organic Farmers Producers’ Company, Olpad, Dist Surat
  149. Ramesh Patel, Srishti, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  150. Ramesh, Satvik: Promoting Ecological Agriculture, Bhuj, Gujarat
  151. Raspinder Singh, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Ludhiana
  152. Ratan Singh Mann, State President, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Haryana
  153. Ravideep Singh, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Barnala
  154. Rekha Ramu, Farmer & Co, Tamil Nadu
  155. Rohit Prajapati, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat
  156. Rosamma Thomas, Journalist, Pune
  157. S Malla Reddy, Vice President, All India Kisan Sabha (36 Canning Lane)
  158. S Venkatesan, South Indian Sugarcane Growers Association
  159. S. Ashalatha, Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch, Hyderabad
  160. Sagar Rabari, President, Khedut Ekta Manch, Gujarat
  161. Samatbhai Jada, Dharamitra Sajiv Kheti Mandal, Dharei, Dist: Surendranagar, Gujarat
  162. Sangeetha Sriram, AEVS, Auroville
  163. Sangita Sharma, Annadana / My Right to Safe Food, Bangalore
  164. Sanjeev Sharma, Swadesh Haat Jalandhar, Jalandhar
  165. Saroj Mohanty, Paschim Odisha Krushak Sanghatan Samanvay Samithi, Odisha
  166. Sarvadaman Patel, President, Biodynamic Association of India and Ex. President, OFAI, Bhaikaka Krushikendra, Near Anand, Gujarat
  167. Satnam Singh Cheema, State President, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Uttarakhand
  168. Seema Kulkarni, SOPPECOM, Pune, Maharashtra
  169. Sejal Dand – MAKAAM-Mahila Kisan Adhikar Abhiyaan, India
  170. Sejal Dave – ANANDI-Area Networking and Development Initiatives, Gujarat
  171. Shalini Bhutani, Legal researcher and Policy analyst, Delhi
  172. Sharada Gopal, Right to Food Campaign, Karnataka
  173. Sharanya Nayak, Humane, Koraput, Odisha
  174. Sheelu Francis, Women’s Collective, Chennai
  175. Shipra Agarwal, Sustainability Expert, Bangalore
  176. Shripal Shah, Asal, Paldi, Ahmedabad
  177. Smita-Harish, Organic Farmer, Dist Vadodara, Gujarat
  178. Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Save Our Rice Campaign
  179. Subha Bharadwaj, Mahatmaji Seva Sangam, Tamil Nadu
  180. Subhash Chaudhury, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), NCR of Deli
  181. Subhash Naskar, General Secretary, All India Samyukta Kisan Sabha
  182. Sujatha Padmanabhan, Kalpavriksh, Pune
  183. Sukhdev Singh Gill, State President, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Himachal Pradesh
  184. Sukhwinder Pappi, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Sangrur
  185. Suma Josson, Film maker, Pune
  186. Sumi Krishna, independent environment – development scholar, Bangalore
  187. Sunayana, Lipika and Shipra, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Jalandhar
  188. Sundara Vimalanathan, Thanjavur Cauvery Delta Farmers Protection Association, Tamil Nadu
  189. Sundaramurthy, Thai Arakkattalai, Palladam, Tamil Nadu
  190. Sundari Perumal, Tamil Nadu Resource Team, Tamil Nadu
  191. Suresh Ediga, i4farmers, New Jersey, USA
  192. Swati – Anand – Rohit, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara.
  193. Uma Shankari, Rashtriya Rythu Seva Samithi, Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh
  194. Umendra Dutt, Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab
  195. Usha Soolapani, Thanal, Kerala
  196. Vettavalam Manikandan, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu
  197. Vidyadhar Olkha, State President, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Rajasthan
  198. Vijay Jardhari, Beej Bachao Andolan, Uttarakhand
  199. Vijay Jawandhia, Shetkari Sanghatana, Maharashtra
  200. Vikin Kakadia, Upsurge Seeds of Agriculture Ltd, Gujarat
  201. Vinay- Charul, Loknaad, Ahmedabad
  202. Vipul Kamboj, Amrytam Aahar, Sirsa, Haryana
  203. Virendra Dagar, State President, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Delhi
  204. Virendra Kumar Shrivastava, President, Laghu Simant Krishak Morcha, Uttar Pradesh
  205. Yash Marwah, Let India Breathe, Mumbai
  206. Yogesh Kumar Dwivedi, Chief Executive Officer, Madhya Bharat Consortium of Farmers Producer Company Limited (State Federation of Farmers Producer Companies of Madhya Pradesh), Bhopal
  207. Yudhvir Singh, National Secretary, All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (AICCFM) and Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU)

 

Copies to:

  1. Shri Radhamohan Singh, Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, GoI (minister-agri@nic.in);
  2. Shri Parshottambhai Rupala, Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India (mosrupala@gmail.com)
  3. Shri Vijaybhai Rupani, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Government of Gujarat (cm@gujaratindia.com, min.vrrupani@gmail.com, vijaybhairupani@gmail.com, vijay.rupani@gmail.com)
  4. Shri RC Faldu, Hon’ble Agriculture Minister of Government of Gujarat (rc_faldu@yahoo.com)

 

List of PepsiCo India Holdings (PIH) Pvt Ltd Cases in Gujarat Courts

 

Commercial Court at City Civil Court, Ahmedabad

  1. PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd versus BIPIN PATEL (Village Lamanpurakampa, Taluka Vadali, District Sabarkantha, Gujarat)

Commercial Trademark Suit Number 23 of 2019

  1. PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd versus VINOD PATEL (Village Badolkampa, Taluka Vadali, District Sabarkantha, Gujarat)

Commercial Trademark Suit Number 24 of 2016

  1. PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd versus CHABILBHAI PATEL (Village Badolkampa, Taluka Vadali, District Sabarkantha, Gujarat)

Commercial Trademark Suit Number 25 of 2019

  1. PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd versus HARIBHAI PATEL (Village Medhkampa, Taluka Vadali, District Sabarkantha, Gujarat)

Commercial Trademark Suit Number 26 of 2019

District Court of Arvalli at Modasa, cases from 2018

  1. PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd Vs.

PRABHUDAS PATEL (Vakhatpura Kampa, PO Vadagam, Dhansura Taluka, Arvalli District)

BHARAT PATEL (Vakhatpura Kampa, PO Vadagam, Dhansura Taluka, Arvalli District)

JEETU PATEL (Vakhatpura Kampa, PO Vadagam, Dhansura Taluka, Arvalli District)

VINOD PATEL (Vakhatpura Kampa, PO Vadagam, Dhansura Taluka, Arvalli District)

Civil Suit No. 07 of 2018

  1. PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd Vs. JIGARKUMAR PATEL (Village Kishorpura, Modasa Taluka, Arvalli District)

Civil Suit No. 06 of 2018

 

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Press Release

 

FARMER UNIONS and CIVIL SOCIETY REPRESENTATIVES DEMAND THAT

PEPSICO INDIA IMMEDIATELY WITHDRAW ITS CASES AGAINST FARMERS –

“GOVERNMENT SHOULD STEP IN URGENTLY TO UPHOLD FARMERS’ RIGHTS AS PER LAW”

 

Ahmedabad/New Delhi, 24th April 2019: Leading farmer unions, farmers’ rights advocacy groups and eminent citizens of Gujarat demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat. The Indian subsidiary of the US MNC, namely PepsiCo India Holdings (PIH) Pvt Ltd has filed cases of IPR infringement through 2018-2019 against farmers whom it claims are using its potato variety FL 2027/FC5 without permission.

Addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad today, they demanded that the Government of India and the State Government of Gujarat step in immediately to protect farmers’ rights as already enshrined in relevant laws of the country, particularly the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001.

“The claims of PepsiCo India that it holds exclusive rights on a potato variety called FL-2027 by virtue of its plant variety certificate (PVC) under the PPV&FR Act 2001 is completely untenable. The company is clearly intimidating farmers to wipe out any competition in its potato and chips market. We strongly condemn the objectionable ways in which the MNC used private detective agencies to entrap farmers, to create secret video footage and take unauthorised samples from the farmers, to slap these legal suits against farmers. We demand that the company immediately and unconditionally withdraw all the cases that it initiated in various courts against farmers”, said Ambubhai Patel, National Vice President, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS).

Badribhai Joshi of Gujarat Khedut Samaj said, “From information gathered so far, at least nine cases have been filed by PepsiCo India against potato farmers of Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and Arvalli districts, and some of these cases date back to 2018; news of ex-parte ad-interim injunction orders being passed by a commercial court against the farmers has emerged only recently. These are amongst the first cases of alleged IPR infringement against farmers in India in a post-WTO world. Wrongly decided, these could set a wrong precedent impacting farmers livelihoods quite adversely”.

Kapilbhai Shah of Jatan, Vadodara added, “India had designed a sui generis law in compliance with the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), which is the PPV&FR Act, 2001. Under this statute, farmers’ apriori rights with regard to seeds and planting material have been clearly protected under Section 39. Therefore, we want the Government of India and Government of Gujarat to step in and ensure that farmers’ rights are upheld in these cases and elsewhere. Eminent citizens and hundreds of organisations across India have already begun writing to the concerned authorities and we demand immediate intervention from these authorities/ departments.”

PepsiCo India claims that the registration of a potato variety denominated as FL-2027, also known by the trade name of FC-5 in India’s Plant Varieties Registry in February 2016, entitles it to an exclusive right over the registered variety, and is making a case that the sued Gujarat farmers have not been authorised by it to grow the said variety. However, Section 39(1) (iv) of the PPV&FR Act 2001 in Chapter VI on Farmers’ Rights, clearly asserts that “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, (iv) a farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into the force of this Act, provided that the farmer shall not be entitled to sell branded seed of a variety protected under this Act.”

“Even as we demand that Pepsico withdraw its false cases, and that the government intervene to protect farmers’ rights, we also seek that any judicial interpretation should not water down the legislative intent of the PPV&FR Act in any manner”, said Sagar Rabari, President of Khedut Ekta Manch.

Dr Rajendrabhai Khimani, President of Gujarat Association of Agricultural Sciences said, “It is important that the law be amended to protect farmers’ rights in a stronger fashion by clearly adding a provision that bars any company from getting registrations under the PPV&FR Act if found harassing farmers in this manner. As a penalty on PepsiCo India for vexatious suits like this against farmers, registration of all varieties of PIH should stand cancelled. Government must also issue minimum half page educational advertisements in all regional language papers highlighting the key features of the Act and that it will uphold farmers’ rights. That will then prevent any other corporations claiming Plant Breeders Rights from taking such action against hapless farmers”.

“It is a clear case of harassment and intimidation of farmers, in violation of farmers’ rights under section 39 of the PPV&FR Act. Need to underline who is really infringing upon whose right”, said Vinay Mahajan of Loknaad.

Meanwhile, hundreds of eminent citizens, activists, farmer unions and other organisations have sent a letter to the Chairperson and Registrar General of India’s Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, with copies to the Union Agriculture Minister Shri Radhamohan Singh, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shri Purushotham Rupala, Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Vijay Rupani and Agriculture Minister of Gujarat Shri RC Faldu, demanding immediate intervention from their side, with the following demands:

  1. Put out a public statement, which should also be made a submission to the Commercial Court and High Court in Ahmedabad where the farmers are being sued, explaining the farmers’ rights as enshrined in the PPV&FR Act, 2001;
  2. Write to PepsiCo India Holdings, asking it to withdraw its false and untenable cases against the farmers;
  3. Provide from the National Gene Fund the costs of legal suits that the farmers are having to face, until the time that the cases are withdrawn by PepsiCo India;
  4. Mention on all Certificates of Registration, in the same manner as Section 47 (on compulsory licensing) is mentioned, Section 39 and other relevant sections too.
  5. Issue a notification that no company can trespass into a farmer’s field without due intimation of the local district agriculture office and the farmer’s prior informed consent.

 

(Ambubhai Patel)                                           (Badribhai Joshi)                                      (Kapil Shah)

Bharatiya Kisan Sangh                                Gujarat Khedut Samaj                                      Jatan

 

 

 

(Sagar Rabari)                                             (Vinay Mahajan)                           (Dr. Rajendra Khimani)

Khedut Ekta Manch                                                 Loknaad                        Guj. Association of Agri. Science

 

Date :24/04/2019

Attachment: Letter to PPV&FR Authority and other concerned, from eminent citizens & organisations

For more information, contact: Kapil Shah at 7567916751, Kavitha Kuruganti at 8880067772