So why have none of these historically important natural pearling area become an epicenter of pearl production?
Well India has tried. It has tried over and over again. India is rich with Pinctada fucata in the famous pearl beds of the Gulf of Mannar and Pinctada mararitifera in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But the pearling efforts of India have had little success. The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute of Kerala helped set up an operation in the past 15 years for the locals. They’ve successfully grown akoya. But the production is so small the pearls never hit the market. Ajai Kumar Sonkar is reported to have some success in the Andamans, but who has really heard an update since pearls ’94?
I think India has just not tried hard enough. Plans are made, hopes are high, but the infrastructure and support is just not there. India needs a shot of Dubai’s nationalistic pearl fervor to make this potentially profitable enterprise a reality.
In the Indian municipality of Silchar, a pearl farming plan has been in the works for the last few years. The administration did its research. There is local demand for pearls and pearls are all imported. Pearls are important to the locals for astrological reasons, and many prefer pearls over precious metals. According the a story from Telegraph India, the plan appeared flawless. That is, until it reached Dispur. According to Sudip Dutta, the vice-chairman of Silchar municipality, “the Assam government found no reason to accord any priority to the project.”
India strikes out once again.