ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Caught in the Potato Skirmish

PepsiCo’s retraction from its lawsuit marks the triumph of partisan motives and not farmers’ interests.

The furore generated by PepsiCo’s lawsuit against a few farmers in Gujarat for alleged infringement of the company’s patents over a certain potato variety, has brought home the fact that the very mention of the word “farmer” can turn any issue in this country into a matter of moral outcry. This is perchance an inevitable reaction in a country where over half the population finds its livelihood in a sector that is overwhelmingly skewed in the distribution of the means of production and volatile in terms of income. Herein, the fear of unscrupulous power play by a multinational corporation cannot be dismissed. But this apprehension becomes a matter of concern when it covers the logical mind. More importantly, in this paranoia of creating a “Goliath,” we miss out the inept governance of the existing “Saul”—that is, the state—which has pushed agriculture off the track of inclusiveness.

Let us look beyond the legal turf, to some elementary issues. Given the contention that a big corporation is flexing its market power to exclude farmers from their right to cultivate a crop variety of their choice, one is intrigued by the question: Why did farmers, reportedly smallholders in this case, choose a variety that has high marketing barriers, if there was no assured buyer in their backyards?

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Updated On : 22nd May, 2019
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