PATNA: For Jaishankar Singh, 52, a pearl farmer in Bihar’s Begusarai, it was a pleasant surprise when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned his name and praised his innovation during his Mann Ki Baat address on Sunday. Singh’s 11 years of hard work — the cultivation of pearls using oyster mussels in his 1.10-bigha pond — has finally paid off. Singh, Bihar’s only pearl farmer, said these mussels are treated and produce up to dozens of buckets of pearls annually, earning him up to Rs 500- 1,000 per piece.
Recipients of many agricultural awards from the state government, Singh has a stock of more than 10,000 pieces of pearls. A post-graduate in organic chemistry from CM Science College in Darbhanga, Singh turns emotional while recalling how he was once being mocked by locals when he started the pearl cultivation. “They would mock me saying ‘padhe farsi beche tel’ (highly educated but doing a menial job).
The same people are now proud of my work,” Singh told this newspaper. Addressing the radio programme, Modi said in Bihar, youth have taken training from Jaipur and Bhubaneswar to start pearl farming, and have started cultivation of pearls in Muzaffarpur, Begusarai and Patna, where they are employing and further training migrant workers. Born in a poor family, Singh said after his post-graduation, he tried a lot for a government job but didn’t get any offer. “But I did not lose hope. I had read about pearl production in a news article. Then, I dug a pond on a 1.10-bigha land in 2009 and started collecting mussels from nearby wetlands,” he said.