GILGIT: The two-year project “Technology Transfer and Skills Development in Gems Sector” came to an end this week, giving the region of Gilgit – Baltistan [G-B] much to build on in the field of gemstone.
The closure of the project formally came in a ceremony held in Gilgit on Saturday. The ceremony was attended by Pakistan Gems and Mineral Association [PGMA], Pakistan Gems and Jewelry Development Company and trainees gem sector business groups.
The project funded by USAID-Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program was implemented by Rupani Foundation [RF].
Over the years, RF established two gems cutting and polishing cum production centers - one each in Hunza and Chitral - and developed 40 Master Trainers, who further trained a workforce of 206 (111 in Hunza and 95 in Chitral). One of the significant aspects of it was that majority of the trained workforce consisted of women.
The achievements of the project include establishment of a state-of-the art Gem Testing and Certification Laboratory at Danyore in Gilgit where a 4 member Gemological team is working to provide gem testing, appraising and certification services to gems sector. The facility is first of its nature in this mountainous region. This team of gems experts has received six-month diploma in gemology under the project at University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar.
“The project has significantly changed the lives of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral,” says Jalal ud-Din, chief executive officer of RF.
“The trainees can work anywhere in Pakistan now, if they want to. It will be like strengthening gem sector as they are able to add value to rough gemstone,” Jalal ud-Din told Outpost.
He said that Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral being rich in many natural gemstones offer opportunities to both Rupani Foundation Master Trainers and trainees to market their products through regional and national market. If they do so, they will be underpinning rural economy, leading to influx of foreign exchange.
Amin Jan, who saw through the project as Project Manager, said USAID's small Grants and Ambassadors Fund Program in G-B provided a golden opportunity to 240 member workforce to start small to medium scale cottage industry in gem sector by developing value added products at their door step.
RF with a long term strategy to boost economic growth in the mountains of northern Pakistan further aims to encourage young skilled workforce to develop group businesses to benefit from the huge potential of gems and jewelry sector, said Jan while giving detailed briefing on the two years gem sector development project.
And RF will continuously provide technical support to this skilled workforce to enable them to generate income for themselves and for the region as whole, he added.
Anwar, director at Department of Minerals G-B appreciated Rupani Foundation's intervention in gem sector as it created employment opportunities for the un-employed youth.
He also appreciated RF for its advanced machinery especially its state of the art Gem testing laboratory established at Gilgit to facilitate gem sector in G-B.
Others who spoke on the occasion include Pakistan Gems and Mineral Association and community representatives of Danyore Gilgit.
The participants, in the end, visited the local exhibition organized by RF.
Gemstones and minerals have been mined in the mountainous region of G-B and Chitral for nearly 40 years. The mountainous regions are geologically active areas that are advantageous in locating gem and mineral deposits. Rupani Foundation's initiative in the establishment of the Gem Cutting and Polishing Training Centers gives local residents a chance to be involved in not only the mining of gemstones, but also producing a finished product which has a higher resale value.
Rupani Foundation [RF] provides the necessary support for the establishment of the required infrastructure to develop the Mine-to-Market program for precious gemstones. The objective is to enhance the skills of the local people in mountain communities in professional mining, processing and value addition, standardization and certification, packaging, branding and promotion. These skills will increase market access through links with international auction centers and through participation in major trade expo events.
RF in partnership with USAID's small Grants and Ambassadors Fund Program started the Technology Transfer & Skill Development project in gem sector in January 01, 2013 in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, KP. Under this project RF had to establish gems testing facilities to train a workforce of more than 200 men and women in the art of gems cutting and polishing cum beads making. RF also had to establish a gems testing facility at the one of its already established facilities where a four member team of RF trained gems experts will facilitate local gems traders through identification and certification of precious and semi precious gems.