Challenges in Utilization of Precious Opal in Ethiopia: A Case Study from the Delanta Area, South Wollo, Ethiopia
Even if, the Delanta precious opal is promising natural resources for economic development and expansion of gemstone industry, there are serious problems faced in utilization of the resource. This study aimed to assess the major problems affecting the utilization of opal resources in Delanta district, Ethiopia, and to recommend possible solutions to the main actors of the sector. In this study, statistical methods and fishbone diagrams were employed and the data for the study was collected using interviews, focus group discussions, and physical observation. The results of the study revealed that there are problems which can be categorized into four main categories: mining technique related problems (opal cracking problem due to traditional mining tools, inappropriate handling, and land sliding accidents), market-related problems (such as poor national and international market attachment, meager promotion, unfair market price, corrupted and illegal marketing practices), problems related to value addition (shortage of modern lapidary machines, lack of domestic skills for jewelry production, poor monitoring mechanisms for value addition, low local market price of value-added products and lack of access to sell value-added opal products to the international market and skill gaps of opal cutters) and problems related to lack of environmental impact assessment (deforestation, land degradation and pH change of land soil due to waste disposal). In general, the results of this study indicates that, even though the study area has a promising opal potential, problems related to marketing system, mining, and value addition practices are serious challenges hindered the surrounding community and the country as a whole not to utilize the resource properly.
Keywords:Delanta, Lapidaries, Opal Utilization, Precious Opal, Value addition
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