Mussel farming—that’s how women of Padanna, Valiyaparamba and Cheruvathur panchayats in Kerala’s northern district of Kasargode, who once worked as farmhands and beedi-rollers, found an innovative way of making the extra buck. In fact, it’s harvest time at the mussel farms and estimated production, undertaken by 60 societies run by women in roughly 30 acres of shallow water zones, is 4,500 tonnes! This is a national record.
These women have shown how mussel, a variety of bivalve shellfish naturally occurring in colonies in seawater, can be farmed inland. But the real mussel-man, if you like, is Gul Mohammed, a Gulf returnee, who experimented with growing spat (the larval form of the marine mussel) in cloth pouches dipped in shallow brackish water. In 1996 his demonstrative first harvest yielded 160 kgs, priced Rs 8 per kg. Strangely enough, Gul is not a marine biologist. After working as a manager in a company in Dubai, he came home and decided to do something that would help others.