China will bid to inscribe its centuries-old freshwater pearl farming as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System, a world heritage equivalent. Work for filing the application to the United Nations’s Food and Agriculture Organization is being prepared by the county government of Deqing, where in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), local man Ye Jinyang developed the freshwater pearl farming technique…Full Article: The Global Times Sept 2017

Key Points

  • In July 2017, China’s Ministry of Agriculture added freshwater pearl farming in Deqing, Zhejiang Province, to the country’s list of most important agricultural heritage.
  • In 2016, Deqing, Zhejiang Province, produced 10% (i.e. ~100 MTs) of China’s freshwater pearls.

ChinaAg Comments

  • Zhejiang Province’s Shanxiahu Pearl Market in Zhuji and Jiangsu Province’s Weitang Pearl Market in Suzhou are major Chinese pearl markets.  Major Chinese pearl companies include Shanshui Pearl Corporation, Zhejiang Ruanshi Group, and Zhejiang Shanxiahu Pearl Group.
  • In 2010, China produced 1,500 MTs of freshwater cultured pearls and 20 MTs of saltwater pearls from the Akoya pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata). At the time, freshwater cultured pearls were primarily produced in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, and Hunan, while saltwater cultured pearls were produced along the coast in the Guangdong Province and Guangxi Region. Freshwater mussels can produce dozens of pearls while saltwater oysters only produce one to two pearls at a time.
  • In 1963, Jiangsu Province began using freshwater mussels to culture pearls.  As of 2010, Chinese freshwater pearl production focused on 10 freshwater mussel species including the triangle sail mussel (Hyriopsis cumingii), crown mussel (Cristaria plicata), and swan mussel (Anodonta spp.). The triangle sail mussel is the primary mussel used to produce pearls in China.

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