GILGIT TRIBUNE

Voice of the Mountain People

Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Indonesia willing to invest in Gilgit-Baltistan agriculture sector

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 6, 2010

LAHORE: Gilgit-Baltistan has huge investment opportunities in agriculture and medicinal herbs as the area is not only the gateway to China and Central Asian States, but also has a well-established infrastructure.

This was the crux of the presentations given at Gilgit-Baltistan Investment conference held at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday. Indonesian Ambassador Isak Latuconsina, LCCI President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, Adviser to the Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Mian Shafqat Ali and LCCI former president Mian Anjum Nisar also spoke on the occasion.

Due to ideally suited climate and abundant water resources both the sectors have marvelous chances for vertical and horizontal expansion but unfortunately the sectors could not be developed to the desired levels for want of due participation of the private sector, said Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Drugs Inspector Kifayatullah Khan and Gilgit-Baltistan Agriculture Department’s Javaid Akhtar. Availability of trained contract farmers, well established tissue culture laboratories, storage and certification facilities make it convenient for the business community to put their money in these sectors. Gilgit-Baltistan horticulture policy also ensures a number of incentives to the private sector by reducing regulatory barriers.

Soft loans are also available to the businessmen for the development of modern horticulture business enterprises while expansion of Karakorum Highway and opening up of Babusar-Naraan Road are the added advantages. Speaking on the occasion, Indonesian ambassador said that there was no doubt in it that Pakistan’s private sector had the ability to write new success stories and the LCCI initiative would definitely go a long way in bringing Gilgit-Baltistan at par with other developed parts of the countries.

The ambassador said that Indonesia was ready to extend maximum cooperation to Gilgit-Baltistan government in its efforts aimed at bringing progress and prosperity in the area. The ambassador said that the Indonesian government was ready to help Gilgit-Baltistan government in exploration of coal and mining. Indonesia has the expertise in these areas and the sharing of technical skills could create a win-win situation.

The LCCI president said that agriculture was one of the potential areas for investment in the shape of production, preservation and marketing of quality fruits and vegetable seeds. He said that the very objective of arranging Gilgit-Baltistan Investment Week at the LCCI was to bring the area in the mainstream of the business activities because no government in the past paid any attention towards tapping the potentials of this part of the country. He said that the LCCI had decided to expand cooperation with the Gilgit-Baltistan government in the larger interests of the economy. He said that in a number of sectors, Gilgit-Baltistan had no match in the world and only because of little value-addition facilities these sectors could not grow. Speaking on the occasion, advisor to the governor Gilgit-Baltistan said that that organic farming has a very huge potential for investment because of the availability of a very hardworking human resource. He said that the sectors like hydro energy, dry food, and precious stones are the actual treasure, which, if thoroughly tapped, will change the fate of this region. Daily times

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Posted in Economy | Leave a Comment »

Hunza landslide death toll rises to 13

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, Jan 5: Death toll in the Monday’s disaster at Atabad rose to 13.

About 30 people are still missing. Rescue work was resumed early in the morning on Tuesday.

National Disaster management Chairman Gen (retd) Farooq Ahmed, Force Commander Gilgit-Baltistan Maj Gen Bajwa, Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig and member Mutabiat Shah, Chief Secretary Babaer Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad and other officials reached the affected area.

Thirteen bodies mostly women and children were laid to rest at Aliabad, main town of Huinza on Tuesday amid tears. The bodies were recovered from the rubble and efforts are on to rescue other people still under the rubble, by the local volunteers and rescue workers who are racing against time to rescue others.

The massive landslide, caused by shearing off a portion of the mountain, hit Atabad, a small hamlet, about twenty kilometres from main Hunza, damaging over 40 houses, a community centre, a school, cattle pens, trees and orchards, causing panic in Hunza-Nagar.

The boulders and debris rolling down the slope blocked the water flow in Hunza River, forming a lake that would threaten the low-lying villages and submerge many villages in Gojal, upper Hunza.

The landslide has damaged over two kilometres stretch of the Karakuram Highway, disrupting all kinds of communication links and traffic between Gojal and Hunza. About 170 families have been evacuated from the village to safer places.

A thick cloud of dust blanketed the whole Hunza, Nagar and Gojal valleys.

People of Atabad village had noticed shearing off the rocks, with cracks developing fast on it in 1994 when a high magnitude of earthquake jolted the village.  Later the local authorities declared the area dangerous without making any alternative arrangement of relocation and rehabilitation of the inhabitants. The continuous geological movement had developed huge gullies in the village and surrounding mountains. The people from the dangerous zone of the village were evacuated some days ago.

The residents had conveyed to the authorities concerned about the danger.

Experts had suggested rehabilitation of the residents to some alternative area, as living in such a hazard-prone environment could result in disaster anytime.

But the local administration not responded to the concerns of the people. Had they taken the issue seriously the loss of life could have been avoided, a volunteer working with a civil society organisation said requesting not to be named.

The residents had boycotted November 2009 elections for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly as no candidate – either ruling party or from other parties – had taken their problem seriously.

A delegation from the village had met Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira at Karimabad Hunza to inform him about the danger. He had assured them of help but no concrete steps were taken.

Posted in Economy, Environment, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Government, Hunza-Gojal, Natural Resources, Society, Water | 1 Comment »

Rupani Foundation sets up gemstone cutting, polishing, training centres in GB, Chitral

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 21, 2009

Report and photographs by Asghar Khan

 GILGIT, Oct 21: An international organisation has established gemstone cutting and polishing training centres across Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral to exploit the rich mineral resources of the impoverished regions for fighting poverty and joblessness.

Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral are rich in mineral resources but the federal as well as provincial governments have not taken serious steps to exploit them to reduce poverty and unemployment in the two poverty-stricken regions.

Rupani Foundation, an international organisation, has for the first time in the history of the region established gemstone cutting, polishing and training centres in Gilgit and Chitral on modern lines.

two ladies busy in polishing and cutting of gemstone at one of the centres set up by Rupani Foundation in Gilgit.

two ladies busy in polishing and cutting of gemstone at one of the centres set up by Rupani Foundation in Gilgit.

 “Over 400 people, 55 per cent of whom are women, have so far been imparted training in various skills at these centres,” Chief Executive Officer of Rupani Foundation Sultan Ahmed said at a briefing session at the Gemstone Enterprise Development Centre, Zulfiqarabad here on Wednesday.

Gemstone undertrainees at work at a training centre.

Gemstone undertrainees at work at a training centre.

“Many of these graduates have emerged as master trainers and supervisors, and have now assumed a multitude of responsibilities in the production units,” he said while dilating on the vision and future plans of the Foundation.

Plans are underway to convert the existing centres into training and production, he said.

The foundation also plans to provide the necessary support for the establishment of the required infrastructure for the development of the mining sector and facilitating the traders to bring their products from mine to market.

The finished products of gemstone prepared by the workers of Rupani Foundation Training centre

The finished products of gemstone prepared by the workers of Rupani Foundation Training centre

“This model is unique in that it will not only develop value-added chain for moving the precious stones from the mines to the market globally, but it will also bring in the necessary investments for creating an entire ecosystem for the targeted region such as the building of roads, schools, and hospitals and the development of agriculture,” Mr Ahmed said.

 

The Foundation plans to bring innovation and quality in the products for local, national and international market. This will ultimately bring a huge change in the economy of Gilgit-Baltistan by providing income opportunities to thousands of artisans as well as buyers and suppliers.

Established in 2006, Rupani Foundation aims to reduce poverty, enhance technical skills of women and unemployed youth, as well as promote social entrepreneurship and joint ventures. Rupani Foundation has expanded its scope internationally and currently operates in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the United States.

The foundation’s vision is to become a global leader in the sustainable development of mountain communities which today continue to remain neglected throughout the world. Most mountain communities have natural access to semi-precious and precious stone mines, but lack the skills to develop them into sustainable income generating opportunities.

Gemstyone4By establishing educational and training programs, the foundation can empower these communities to permanently break their cycle of poverty and join the global community as contributing citizens for generations to come, said Mr Ahmed.

The foundation believes that in order to create employment, promote community participation, and reduce poverty, there is a need to unleash the potential of the private sector through public-private alliances. Therefore, the foundation places itself as a catalyst within local communities by creating opportunities to encourage a vibrant private sector. It does so by supporting civil society groups engaged in social entrepreneurship to supplement private sector development.

The Foundation’s primary approach revolves around the development of local human resources in terms of entrepreneurial, managerial, technical, marketing and financial skills. It provides support to carry out research, conduct pilots and initiate projects in value-added sectors, said Project Manager Masaidullah Baig.

The Foundation also wishes to be a catalyst for the holistic development of an economic and social infrastructure to support the needs of marginalized communities.

Rupali Foundation CEO Sultan Ahmed speaks at a briefing session about the vision and plans of the organisation at Zulfiqarabad, gilgit ob Wednesday

Rupali Foundation CEO Sultan Ahmed speaks at a briefing session about the vision and plans of the organisation at Zulfiqarabad, gilgit ob Wednesday

After visit of the facility, the participants had some brainstorming session on how to collaborate for overall development of gems sector in the region. All stakeholders showed their great appreciation for the progress made thus far and also committed to work in a more collaborative manner for the development of gems sector which will ultimately bring positive impact in poverty reduction and economic development.

Rupani Foundation being pioneer in establishing such centres is optimistic about the future of gems sector in the area provided that there is greater support and encouragement from government, private sector and other key stakeholders.

Senior representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan Gems and Minerals Association (NAGMA), local tour operators, mineral traders, AKRSP and Serena Hotel officials and a large number of people participated in the briefing session. 

The guests later visited the lapidary for Gemstone Cutting and Polishing Training as well as services.

Posted in Art, Economy, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Trade | 2 Comments »