A treasure yet to be Explored
Nazma Ahmed Kona
is well known for its pearl, produced naturally along
its coastal areas and scattered islands. Unfortunately,
very few of those who wear pearl ornaments know how and
where these come from. In Bangladesh most natural pearls
are gathered by poor villagers living along the coast.
They sell pearl and many other marine products including
black gold, to the local merchants to make a living. Chinese
clay and coral are also collected and sold by these local
people. Unfortunately, the available marine treasures,
which could be a lucrative industry in Bangladesh, have
not been adequately explored yet.
grown naturally along the coastal areas, are usually collected
by the local women. However, naturally formed pearl does
not come in even shape, or right colour and texture. Because
of these reasons, natural pearls often collected over
years, do not get a good price, especially in big cities,
like Dhaka or Chittagong.
I was in Hawaii, I saw pearls being sold in the market,
as they naturally form inside the shell which were kept
alive underwater in small bowls. One can buy these on
the spot, the shell is opened, the pearl is taken out.
With the government’s support the pearl culture could
be developed as a profitable home industry in this country.
Besides producing cosmetic pearl, the shell can be used
to produce useful chemicals, such as calcium oxide of
very high quality. The ash produced by burning pearls
is used in the treatment of many diseases by the folk
healers in many communities. Beside pearls, the minerals
found in the white clay in Netrokona and Narsingdi areas
are also useful for making specialised household items.
Many importers of pearl in this country bring their materials
primarily from India, however, most cultured pearls are
imported from other countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.
Bangladesh, natural pearls are mostly found along the
coast in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Maheshkhali and St Martin
island. Natural pearls found in these areas are of very
good quality, usually light-pink in colour and thus are
costly. After collecting from these area, pearls are sold
in the local markets or to individual merchants. In Chittagong
coastal areas, the sea shells appear to be round in shape.
Some pearl producing shells are also found along the coast
of Khulna areas.
what is cultured pearl? These are produced artificially
using natural shells in selected areas along the coast
or in isolated aquatic reservoirs. The process involves
introduction of a small grit of mineral, usually sand
particle, inside a living sea shell, it is then left to
grow in water naturally for five to six months. In naturally
formed pearls, this process depends on nature and thus,
not always leads to the formation of a pearl. Continued
deposit of minerals on the sand particle occur from the
internal secretion inside the living shells -- finally
producing a beautiful pearl. Cultured pearls produced
in this way usually maintain their uniform size and shape
and are a little less costly than the natural pearls of
similar quality. Most cultured pearls available in Bangladesh
are imported, although there is a great opportunity to
develop the cultured pearl industry right here in this
country. If the government is interested, this could be
developed into a profitable local industry that could
attract foreign investment.
treasures are abundant along the vast coast lines of Bangladesh.
These include coral, sea shell and its products (pearl,
calcium, minerals), black gold, and white clay to name
a few. Bangladesh government should take interest in developing
the marine industry as a source of national revenue and