Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tsunami in Japan impacts pearl industry in Hyderabad

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  The tsunami and subsequent radiation threat in Japan has an unique impact on Hyderabad. This ciity of pearls is hit hard  with the killer tsunami badly damaging oyster culture farms and the subsequent high doses of radiation killing the molluscs that had survived the natural disaster on March 11.
According to local traders, the city pearl industry is feeling the impact of the tsunami damage to oyster farms in Japan. City pearl dealers are in constant touch with their counterparts in Japan for update on the tsunami loss.
"We will know the quantum of impact on the pearl industry in Hyderabad only after a week," said Satish Agarwal, a pearl trader. He said he "cannot assess the impact right now".
Hyderabad imports about 22 to 25 tonnes of pearls from various parts of the world including the Arabian Gulf, Indonesia, Japan and China. The share of Japanese natural pearls in the city's market is around 17 per cent. Incidentally, Japanese pearls have been sold in Hyderabad for almost 80 years.
Though China of late, sends the largest quantity of pearls to Hyderabad, the Chinese pearls, mostly fresh water cultured, do not command higher prices. Japanese pearls rank next only to those harvested in the Arabian Gulf, particularly the Basra region. The pearl business in the city is about Rs 500 crore worth, with the Japanese pearls contributing a share of Rs 90 crore a year.
"Hyderabad has no coastline. It does not cultivate pearls either. But it is called the city of pearls, because of its historic links to the world pearl trade for almost 400 years. Still Hyderabad is the only city in the world to handle such a big volume of pearls," said Mushtaq Farooqui, another pearl trader.
Till a few years ago, Hyderabad used to process raw pearls with expert workers polishing, piercing, and stringing pearls from around the world "In olden days almost 80 per cent of pearls produced in the world used to pass through Hyderabad market. The first Japanese natural pearls entered the city market during the regime of Nizam VII, Mir Osman Ali Khan, though historically Hyderabad had links with the Arabian, particularly Basra pearls," said diamonds and pearls expert Kaleemullah Siddiqui. Pearl traders fear that the supply 
from Japan will resume only after the next oyster harvest season. Oyster larvae are now being imported from the USA for the next season. Added to the devastation caused by tsunami, rise in temperature due to global warming and sea water contamination has affected the quality of Japanese pearls.

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