The stone specialists

― $16M Pakaraima Lapidary opened

DPI, Guyana, Friday, November 1, 2019

Crystals, Amethyst, Volcanic, Jasper and Agate will soon be cut and polished to make stunning jewellery as the $16 Million Pakaraima Lapidary Facility was commissioned on Friday.

This facility is the first of its kind to be established in the Potaro-Siparuni and the first to be owned and operated by Indigenous Guyanese. It will significantly boost economic activities in Monkey Mountain and neighbouring villages including, Tuseneng, Taruka Kurukabaru and Mikwak.

The Lapidary was officially declared open by First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger who was accompanied by a ministerial team comprising Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock and Minister within the Ministry, Hon. Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Hon. Catherine Hughes and Minister of Communities, Hon. Ronald Bulkan and Consul General for Guyana to Brazil, Shirley Melville.

The residents came out in their numbers to witness this significant event. Toshao of Monkey Mountain, Lincoln Singh noted that the commissioning marks a great milestone for the village since the newly added feature will boost economic development and the tourism potential of the beautiful and scenic Paramona village. “The journey was long and challenging but we endured…It is only the beginning as we will work hard and develop other tourism ventures to attract people around the world…We will cherish this gift and make you, the government proud.”

The Toshao also thanked the administration for the support they have been receiving in the other sectors, over the past four years. ” Thank you for keeping Monkey Mountain in your heart, ” he said.

Minister Allicock, emphasised that the project is an example of the ministry’s wider role in terms of hinterland development, which includes preparing the Indigenous peoples to become employable and valuable to nation-building. He noted that the jobs the project will offer complements the over 2000 businesses that were created through the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) Programme. The aim, he added, is to carve sustainable economic opportunities which are environmentally friendly, guaranteeing the improvement of the quality of life of the Indigenous Peoples in keeping with the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS).

“We believe that the near-zero harm that gathering semi-precious stones will have on our natural environment is consistent with our objectives…we believe that preparing our young people through training and then having them create jobs, is consistent with our commitment as a government to our young people.”

He also applauded the efforts by the hard-working team led by the Minister Garrido-Lowe.

The First Lady Mrs. Granger pointed out that the lapidary represents the fulfilment of a promise kept by the administration, and is the beginning of Development 2020-2029 as was declared by His Excellency President David Granger. “…because it combines poverty reduction, employment and youth service, happy households, cultural development and sustainable tourism development. Trained citizens of this community will be reaping the benefits of the many and various precious and semi-precious stones found in this region.”

The lapidary has an exhibit area and a workshop that has modern equipment suitable for cutting, designing, engraving and polishing semi-precious stones which can be found in abundance on the plains of the North Pakaraimas. Craftsmen and women within the community of Monkey Mountain will also to produce unique cases made from tibisiri, nibi, wood and spun cotton, to display the various pieces of jewellery.

Twenty residents from within the villages have benefited from extensive training in terms of how to recognising, cutting and polishing the stones. Additionally, ten youths who were selected to man the facility, attended the Brazilian Institute of SENAI in Boa Vista, Brazil where they were trained as Lapidary Technicians and graduated with credits.

This project will create direct employment for at least 20 persons in each of the five communities that will be involved, and an additional 10 in Monkey Mountain itself. This initiative is one of several economic projects that is being rolled out in the hinterland at an estimated $60M. It is part of the government’s effort to empower the Indigenous Peoples and giving them the support required for them to become economically independent.