Jiji Mathew Kallapura, 63, and his wife Mini, 58, of Thodupuzha in Kerala are not the typical retired farmers putting their feet up. Instead, this energetic couple continues to find new ways to grow their business through innovations. Apart from conducting farming of rubber, cocoa and nutmeg, the couple also makes dry-fried value-added products from jack fruit, banana and even meat.
In fact, they have installed industrial dryers with all latest features like temperature and humidity control for making value-added products from local crops. “Earlier, we had a conventional drier for drying cocoa. But soon we realised the need for a modern drier to make dried fruits, coconut and vegetables and meat snacks,” explained Jiji Mathew. “This allowed us to diversify beyond just selling raw commodities,” he added.
The dryers now enable them to dry and package jackfruit, coconuts, mangoes and beef into tasty snacks. “We’re making jackfruit chips, coconut flakes and dried mango strips right now. And we’re are making dried meat using the driers,” he said.
Local farmers also bring their products to the couple’s farm to dry their products at a nominal cost. “We also run a mill to press oil from coconut. One needs to keep re-inventing to adapt to the changing times. By embracing technology, we have managed to expand our business activities. Adding value-added products beyond our traditional fruits and vegetables has really boosted sales. It brings in a whole new revenue stream for us,” Jiji Mathew told “Open Digest“.
More than money, the couple enjoy learning new skills and taking calculated risks. “Farming can’t just stay the same, you have to adapt. We’re always looking to innovate in a sustainable way. We don’t panic in tough times. We look for creative solutions,” he said.
Both Jiji Mathew and Mini are not done innovating just yet and they are looking forward to new technology-driven farming systems and online sales. “Farming is in our blood and we’ve never been busier than today,” said Jiji Mathew teaching us a lesson that age is just a number.