The Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) region accounts for 60% of the total gemstone resources in Pakistan. This potential has not been fully exploited due to a number of constraints, including poor mining practices, weak skills and outdated technology at all levels of the value chain, as well as a lack of access to information and markets.
The specific objectives of the project in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral are to:
- Improve the gems mining sector in the area.
- Upgrade technology for processing and value added activities.
- Improve design and quality of the gems and jewellery products.
- Improve market access for gems and jewellery products.
- Market-based services for gems and jewelry sector in GBC become more sustainable.
- Access of gems and jewellery products of GBC to national and international market improved.
- Performance of gems and jewellery sector in GBC improved and its competitiveness strengthened.
- Skills enhanced and technology upgraded in gems and jewellery sector of GBC.
Shazia - A woman who can!
Shazia belongs to Hunza, in Gilgit-Baltistan. After she completed her education, she realized that there were few employment opportunities for girls in her area, and resultantly, she stayed home and busied herself with household activities.
Then one day she learned about the ‘Jewel of Pakistan’, training centre set up nearby, by AKRSP as part of the EU’s rural development project. She and her friends were excited to be able to sign up and learn how to cut and polish gems and make jewelry, using their own designs.
Following this, Shazia was able to start her own business with friends. She now runs a small enterprise called Hunza Sunrise where they work on locally bought gems and then sell the finished products nationally and internationally. These gemstones are bought from miners whom the project has supported by providing modern equipment and through training so that they can mine the raw stones safely without damaging the quality. The project has also helped the training graduates expand their access to national and international markets, boosting their incomes.
As Zaheer Shah, a miner from Pakora village says, “Before we thought these gems and stones were useless but now they have become a real source of income for many.” Shazia and her friends are now role models for women in the area.