GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Agriculture officials in southeastern Paktia province say this year’s pine nut harvest reached around 13,000 tons — up about 1,000 tons compared to last year’s.
Bahadur Mangal, a pine nut trader in Paktia province, told Pajhwok Afghan News that modern agriculture methods should be adopted for a higher harvest of the fruit.
He said pine nut harvesting was income source for many people and the fruit production could increase by expanding its plantation area.
“We may harvest a much higher amount of the fruit but it requires more care and more plantation of pine nut trees,” he said.
Tahir Gul Zadran, another trader, said a limited amount of the fruit was still smuggled to Pakistan compared to large scale in the past.
He complained about low price of the fruit and said, “In the past, 50 kilograms of pine nut was sold for 150,000 afghanis but now its price has dropped to 90,000 afghanis, which is a big loss.”
However, Ajmal Masoudzai, a resident of Gardez, capital of Paktia, said that the price of pine nut was very high and most of Afghans could not afford buying it.
“The price is not low but high. I have long wished to buy some of it but cannot. The traders think only about exporting the fruit abroad and increasing its price. The price should not be increased from what is now,” he said.
On the other hand, Paktia agriculture officials also said pine nut yield was higher in the province this year.
Mohammadin Momand, Paktia agriculture director, said that Afghanistan’s pine nut has better quality and high demand and there was need for more efforts to find better market for the fruit.
“Fortunately pine nut production has increased this year, we collected 13,200 tons of the fruit this year compared to around 12,000 tons last year,” he said.
About two years back, President Ashraf Ghani had promised to convert Paktia into an economic zone and open a pine nut processing factory besides launching other economic activities, but no steps have so far been taken on the regard.