Jeysingh Thomas, chairman of the A.V. Thomas Group, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who contributed to tapping technology to tackle the vagaries of monsoon, passed away here on Saturday after a brief illness. He was 84.

When many of the agribusinesses in the country were unable to cope with the challenges because of their cyclical nature, Mr. Thomas was among those who successfully moved from a commodity-based business to value addition.

Effective identification of new markets and technological joint ventures contributed to his success, his son Ajit Thomas said. Mr. Jeysingh Thomas’s efforts at value addition in agro-processing were innovative.

Habib Hussain, one of the executives on the board of A.V.Thomas Group, said Mr. Jeysingh Thomas had a sharp business mind. He made friends for life and kept his word. He ran his own charity organisation for helping the poor.

Born at Idayankudi near Tirunelveli, Mr. Jeysingh Thomas did his graduation in the Madras Christian College and a postgraduate programme in business in the United Kingdom.

He established the first commercial plant tissue culture laboratory in India in 1984. He remained a role model for budding entrepreneurs in agribusiness.

Mr. Jeysingh Thomas became the chairman of A.V.Thomas group in 1968 after his father’s demise. Established in 1925, the group is involved in diverse businesses, including tea, coffee, rubber, spices, leather goods, food ingredients and natural extracts, medical appliances, treated rubber wood, shipping and warehousing, agency services and plant biotechnology. It employs more than 11,000 people.

Mr. Jeysingh Thomas was one of the members of the committee of the Madras Race Club. He was the all-Kerala junior athletic champion during his school days and had a passion for tennis and golf. He is survived by his wife Lily Thomas and children Sherien Ryan, Mr. Ajit Thomas, Sagari Francis and Dilip Thomas.

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