Prayagraj: From traditional crops to exotic fruits like dragon fruits and strawberries, farmers in Uttar Pradesh are now spreading their wings beyond age-old ruts as they initiate into pearl farming. Following the concept of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, farmers in Pratappur and Chakka blocks of Prayagraj district have started pearl farming with the help of the soil conservation department.
The ponds owned by villagers have become breeding grounds of pearls, giving them additional income. In this unique initiative, the seeds of the pearls are left in the pond, and after the gestation period of 18 months, bright, shiny pearls are harvested.
According to district soil conservation officer, Gaurav Prakash, “We have contacted a Rajasthan-based firm which supplies the seeds at the rate of Rs 40 per seed. The firm also passes on the technique for the correct maintenance of the seeds including maintaining the TDS (total dissolved solvent) level, sewage and providing fodder from time to time. When the gestation period ends, the harvest is purchased by the same firm at the price of Rs 100 per pearl.”
He further said that, “Around 20 months ago, the first trial was done at Bhogwara village in Pratappur block of the district, where a villager had released 40,000 pearl seeds in the pond. After 18 months, he sold the produce at Rs 27 lakh in December last year.”
The department has trained 150 women volunteers, many of whom are members of self-help groups (SHGs) working in trans-Yamuna area where there is scarcity of water.
The firm, which has signed a contract with the administration, is training and guiding farmers of the district in pearl farming. The farmers are also being trained in sorting pearls as per the size and quality so that they can get a good price for their produce.
“Some of the members of SHGs have come forward and are ready to buy the pearls and manufacture jewellery from the same, as this would add to their profit. There is a lot of potential in pearl farming, as finding a pond which is 22 metres by 20 metres in area and three feet deep is not a problem for farmers,” said Gaurav Prakash.
The official informed that the seeds are released during two periods of the year, in November-February and in August-October.