PepsiCo, which includes brands such as Pepsi, Lays, Gatorade, and Quaker Oats, allegedly claims damages of 10 for each farmer Million Rupees ($ 143,000).
"PepsiCo is India's largest processor potato buyer and one of the first companies to work with thousands of local farmers to grow a specific protected variety of potatoes," said a company spokesman based in India Thursday to CNN Business. "In this case, we have taken legal action against individuals who have traded illegally with our registered variety . "
The spokesman did not comment on the damage that the company is seeking.
Indian farmers' organizations and activists called on the Indian government to crack down on PepsiCo. In a letter to the government released earlier this week and shared with CNN Business, they said that farmers' rights to grow and sell registered crops are protected under Indian agricultural laws.
"We believe that the intimidation and legal harassment of farmers happens because farmers do not fully understand the rights of 19459011," the letter said. The letter also alleges that PepsiCo has sent private investigators to the accused farmers, posing as potential buyers, secretly taking videos of them and taking samples of potatoes.
PepsiCo did not comment on these allegations.
The company's actions are "against food sovereignty" and "nation sovereignty," said Kapil Shah of Jatan, one of the stakeholders that contributes to the defense of farmers.
"We will fight against it no matter how big the company is," Shah said. "Pepsi made a big mistake."
Correction: An earlier version of this story has misrepresented the nature of the alleged injury.
Swati Gupta contributed to this report.