Johannesburg/Mumbai — As the coronavirus pandemic upended the global diamond industry, shuttering mines from Lesotho to Canada and disrupting supply chains, Rajen Patel swapped diamond polishing for peanut farming. Patel, who worked for a decade in India’s Surat where about 80% of the world’s diamonds are polished, joined the exodus of gem workers leaving the city as cases of the virus shot up.

After taking up farming in his home village, he has no plans to return in the coming months. “I won’t earn as much I was earning in Surat, but I won’t starve and there is no fear of getting infected with coronavirus,” he said...

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