Seeds of conflict: How US companies became the enemies of traditional Indian agriculture


12-05-19 11:59:00,

India’s vast market has been lusted after by US corporations for years. Agricultural giants cultivate their own rules on this land of ancient farming traditions. However, India is a hard nut for the likes of Monsanto to crack.

Potato dispute

Most recently, snack giant PepsiCo has drawn the ire of the Indian farmers’ unions and advocacy organizations by suing a group of farmers over an alleged infringement of intellectual property rights. Nine farmers in the state of Gujarat were supposedly growing a particular variety of potatoes, for which the US-based corporation has exclusive rights.

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Although the company eventually decided to withdraw its lawsuits against the farmers following a public outcry, the incident has become just the most recent example of the Western corporations’ attempts to reign in the world’s second-biggest market in terms of the overall agriculture production levels.

PepsiCo was actually the one to allow some farmers in India’s region of Punjab to grow its “exclusive” variety of spuds in the first place. But it did so on condition of a 100 percent buyback scheme. The problems began when it discovered that some other farmers started to grow the potatoes without the corporation’s permission. The issue appears to be stemming from the fact that most seeds have been passed on in an informal way between farmers.

Attack on ‘way of life’

Some farmers believe all those rights disputes are part of the corporations’ attempts to make local producers dependent on their products. “These multinational giants always try to monopolize local markets,” Ramesh Delampady, a farmer from South India, told RT.

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He believes this is all nothing but an assault on the traditional Indian ways of farm management. “Farmers … keep the seeds with themselves in India,” he explained, adding that they constantly “try new methods, cultivation techniques in a hope to increase their profit” in a practice that makes them largely self-reliant.

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