Chinese training to help promote mineral sector entrepreneurship in GB: Experts

The people of Gilgit Baltistan need training in the mineral sector entrepreneurship through the coordination of Chinese and Pakistani academia and related stakeholders, opines Dr Zakir Hussain Zakir, Director of Planning and Development at the University of Baltistan, Skardu while talking to WealthPK. 

He said, “Despite being rich in gems and minerals, GB lags in lapidary, proper equipment, and marketing approach. A great number of young people are also unemployed. To address this issue, in 2023, with the coordination of Yunnan Land and Resources Vocational College (YLRVC), China, the University of Baltistan, Skardu (UOBS) initiated an associate diploma in geology and mineral survey. The Department of Geo-Sciences and Mineralogy in UOBS was established in 2021.”

He said the course spanned three years, out of which a two-year study would be completed in Pakistan while the remaining one year would be conducted in YLRVC, China, and included a more practical schedule. It is a new development in the newly established Department of Geo-Sciences and Mineralogy at the UOBS. 

Talking to WealthPK, Dr. Zakir said, “Before starting a degree program, UOBS and YLRVC collaborated to start the said extensive diploma. The students will be trained in e-commerce, to approach the local and international markets, and become entrepreneurs. For this, they will be deployed to different firms for internships. Before graduation, the students will be able to make their way. Besides getting expertise in mineralogy, the students are also learning the Chinese language.”

He said the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) was also actively participating in promoting entrepreneurship concerning the mineral and gemmology sectors. For this, the AGRSP announced to support young entrepreneurs with the necessary equipment to make a start. To achieve this support, a candidate must present the work plan. After the assessment of the proposal, the candidate will get free basic machinery and required tools. After that, they will improve on their own.

“Other than coordination from a Chinese Institute, the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD), and recently, the UOBS and PIFD, in coordination with the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), have conducted a practical workshop on gem cutting and polishing, added Dr. Zakir.

Talking to WealthPK, gemstones exporter Zakir Ullah alias Jhulay Lal said, “There’s a need for the Chinese coordination to improve the number of entrepreneurs in the gemstone sector. In-kind initiatives are vital not only in GB but also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan province. He said that by promoting the gemstone sector and improving its opportunities, Pakistan could get rid of the economic crisis.
Talking to WealthPK, Chairman All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association of Rough and Unpolished Precious and Semi-Precious Stones (APCEA) Syed Minhajuddin Shah said, “The importance of Chinese coordination to strengthen entrepreneurs in the gemstone sector through academia and industry is no doubt a good initiative. The APCEA is also interested in coordinating with the UOBS to start such activities in KP and all other places where the gemstone raw material occurs in plenty.

“Gemstone lapidary is emerging as a strong sector, and it is high time that it was properly launched in Pakistan. By popularizing training, academic education, and strengthening entrepreneurs in this concern, new opportunities can be generated.”

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