Poor Marathwada peasants harvest huge profits from 'pearl farming'
In July 2021, the 10 nervous but excited farmers ‘planted' 25,000 mussels on nets in the pond and after an anxious wait of 14 months, in September 2022, out came 10,000 ‘live' oysters -- with 2 glittering pearls embedded in each -- that changed these peasants' lives forever.
Pawar is grateful to the Aurangabad based Indo Pearl which helped them in their maiden venture, guided the cultivation, provided the mussels at Rs 40 per piece, supervised the cultured pearls every month, arranged for 100 per cent insurance and then organised a buyer for their valuable white ‘motis'.
Buoyed by their first success, this year the cooperative has attracted 40 farmers and ‘planted' 50,000 oysters and a tie-up with two more companies, GKP Pearl Farm of Solapur and Namo Pearl Farm in Chandrapur, he said.
"In India, the successful harvest rate (live oysters) is 50 per cent, though some individuals have managed upto 70 per cent of the total mussels planted. It still ensures at least 200-300 per cent RoI (return on investment) with little 'maintenance' hassles," explains Pawar.
US-based Ketan Kakkad, owner of Jaipur Jewelers based initially in New Jersey and now in Mumbai, said its dazzling collection of precious stones, including pearl jewellery, was featured prominently in the prestigious Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Special in 2010. It was shot for the first time extensively in Rajasthan, featuring top global models adorning his creations.