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Prabhu Raj with his family at their farm

Prabhu Raj with his family at their farm.

Farming with a strong connection to Jacobi

Jacobi has two production sites in India, one around 35 kilometres outside Coimbatore. Just behind our plant is a farm run by Prabhu Raj and his family. Farms like these are common in India, and there is a particular reason why we wanted to meet Prabhu, since the connection to Jacobi is strong.

Farming can be a hard life. Varied conditions, such as access to water, reliable amounts of rain or extended dry seasons, make it quite challenging to rely on farming alone for a family’s well-being. Having an extra job gives a steady income. Prabhu Raj joined Jacobi in 2012, but the story starts earlier. 

Name: Prabhu Raj
Occupation: Senior Operator in Post Activation Department
Location: Vadasithur, adjacent to the company
Hobby: Farming
Passion: Family (along with his five cows and three calves)

Hi there Prabhu, when did your relationship with Jacobi begin? 

The family’s farm was 10 acres in 2009. When Jacobi was established here, they bought one acre of the farm to build the plant. The part that Jacobi bought had a well on it, and Jacobi allowed me to pump water out of the well for my farming purposes. Later on, they gave the well to me for my usage. I had been looking for a job somewhere to get experience, but it was very hard. So, after Jacobi started the plant, I got a job here and joined in 2012.

When I started to work at Jacobi, I could only be here for a few months, but I got very attached to the company, so I found a way to stay. 

What is your role at Jacobi?

Currently, I’m the Production Assistant in the post-activating department. I also often introduce new employees and orient them to the workplace; people say I’m a kind person and that they like to be introduced to everything by me. Recently, we hired an Assistant Manager, who I trained. I’m a humble person, always aiming to do things in the best possible manner. 

Please tell us more about the farm 

After selling one acre of the farm to Jacobi, we have nine acres left. It is close to the plant, just at the backside. On seven of these nine acres, we grow coconut trees. On the remaining two acres, we grow chilis, tomatoes and corn. 

We know that you are not the only one working there, so tell us a bit about your family

My father passed away when I was young, nearly 30 years ago, and my mother, Chellamal, took care of me, despite all the difficulties and challenges. It was hard, though, and it was impossible for me to complete the school further. But she managed to provide for me to get a good life.

When I was about to join the company, I got married to my wife, Kavithamani, and within six months, I was blessed with a baby girl, Praveena. Then, after two years, we had another baby girl named Daruna. Today, they are eight and six years old. 

For how long has your family had this farm? 

The farm is very old; it can be dated to even before the British ruled the Indian subcontinent and has been handed over to generations. It has been around forever in my family.

When not in school, Prabhu’s daughters help at the farm.

What does a typical day look like? 

At Jacobi, I work on a shift basis, so it depends on my shift in the plant. If I have the second shift, the typical day starts at 5 am. I eat some porridge and cereals for breakfast, no coffee or tea, and then I start working on the farm with the help of my mother, my wife and my two daughters, when they are not in school. Then I go to Jacobi to start my later shift. If I work the early shift, I work at the farm in the afternoon and evening. There is always something to do on the farm. 

How much do you get from what you grow on the farm? 

We have nearly 400 coconut trees which give about 10,000 coconuts every 40 – 50 days, which we take to the market. There, they are sold with the different parts separated. We don’t sell anything to Jacobi to produce activated carbon; the amounts are too small. But we have sold coconuts to Jacobi for cooking purposes in their canteen. When it comes to tomatoes, we get around 750 kg every two days during season time, that is twice a year, during three months.

You also have some animals

The farm has five cows, three calves and two goats. Two of the cows can give milk, around 20 litres a day, which we utilise and sell the rest to others. There are two types of cows here, Jersey and country cows. The Jersey cows give more milk than the country cows we have, but the milk from the country cows is considered healthier, with less fat. Usually, we also have two goats who provide us with milk. 

The farm has five cows, three calves and two goats. Two of the cows can give milk.

What would happen with the farm if you got sick?

I have two elder sisters who live nearby, and they, together with their families, would come and take care of the farm. Also, people around here are very friendly to each other, and we help our neighbours as much as possible. 

We have a challenge globally with climate change; how has that affected your farming? 

In the last ten years, access to water has actually been good. It was very tough before that, in the earlier days, during the rainy seasons. Often, we couldn’t plant anything. We even had problems finding water to drink. On the other hand, the pollution was less severe then, which kept the plants healthier. 

We get around 10,000 coconuts if there is a good level of rain, but with no rain, we only get  2,000 coconuts. There was very little rain two years ago, so many coconut trees died. The rain has not always been good in recent years. 

Prabhu Raj with his family, outside their home.

What plans do you have for the farm in the future?

We are planning to buy more land nearby when it comes for sale and expand the farm. We are saving money for that; if the rain is good, we can save more. But if it’s not much rain, the crops get smaller, and it isn’t easy to save money. 

We want to thank Prabhu for taking the time to talk to us and Daniel Raj, HR Manager Asia, who kindly assisted as an interpreter. We wish you the best of luck with your job at Jacobi Prabhu and your plans for the farm. 

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