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Meet Kerala farmer who cultivates pearls for a living

KJ Mathachan from Kerala's Kasaragod is a farmer who harvests pearls, literally. His carefully set up farm yields cultured pearls which gives him a good income

Meet Kerala farmer who cultivates pearls for a living
Bengaluru, First Published Jul 17, 2020, 7:52 PM IST
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Kasaragod:  Many of us assume that pearls can be only found in oysters in the ocean, but the truth is something else. Meet the Kerala farmer, who cultivates pearls in a pond and earns money.

KJ Mathachan has cultivated pearls using freshwater mussels that are sourced from rivers originating in the Western Ghats. This 65-year-old man earns up to Rs 4.5 lakh every 18 months. These mussels are treated and produce up to 50 buckets of pearls annually.

The mussel is pried open delicately and the nucleus is deposited inside it. Thereafter the mussel is immersed in water in a mesh container with bacteria to feed on. The water must be between 15-25 degree Celsius in temperature for the mussels to be able to grow.  

Mathachan who worked as professor in Saudi Arabia received an opportunity to go to China as an Arabic to English translator for the ARAMCO Oil Company.

At this time, his focus was drawn to fisheries, which made him think of exploring the different courses the field had and that’s when he came across the pearl cultivation diploma they were offering.

After quitting his job, Mathachan moved to China to pursue the diploma. Six months later, he completed the course and returned to Kerala in 1999 to cultivate pearls in his own backyard.

Mathachan started collecting freshwater river mussels that were brought from Maharashtra or sourced from the rivers originating from the Western Ghats and started treating them in buckets in his backyard.

After the first 18 months of cultivation, Mathachan had produced 50 buckets of pearls. Mathachan’s pearl business has been flourishing and he has also received a license to take classes for people who hope to start their own pearl cultivating business.

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