Abu Taleb Talukder
This profile was prepared when Abu Taleb Talukder was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
Wild oyster pearls have been collected for thousands of years in Bangladesh. Abu Taleb Talukder is pioneering a way to harness the tremendous potential of family and community-based pearl cultivation as a combined source of food and income. Having overcome both technical and organizational obstacles, Abu Taleb is now demonstrating and preparing to disseminate his approach.His demonstration involves training a cohort of rural farmers to establish, maintain and harvest oyster colonies in a productive and ecologically sound manner. With this group to show as an example, he is integrating aquaculture technology and ecological issues into the primary school curriculum. Thus school children become through one of the means which the word about pearl culture gets out to heads of household, who are encouraged to learn more about the program. The practical training for school children is also a strong incentive for children to stay in school. The potential benefits of his method are considerable. A one-third acre pond, of which there are nearly two million in the country, can produce at least US$2,300 worth of pearls every three years. In addition to the increased income, which is siginficant for a country with GDP per capita of $1,331, the method also creates a significant protein source from snails, clams, and fish and oysters in the ponds.