Amid the rapid increase of pine nuts exports through the air corridor to China, an Afghan investor has invested $5 million in a pine nuts processing factory in Kabul which will be inaugurated within the next week.
Sher Ali Zadran, deputy head of the factory, said it is the biggest firm in the country which will be able to process at least 12 tons of pine nuts a day.
Zadran said they will package and process pine nuts in line with international norms.
“Before the air corridor, the price for pine nuts in Afghanistan’s markets was $12 to $14 for one kilogram. While after the air corridor between Afghanistan and China, the price has gone up to around $26,” said Zadran.
Sameer Rasa, head of public relations of office of the Senior Advisor to the President in Banking and Finance, said that at least 1,300 tons of pine nuts have been sent to China through the air corridor – which was inaugurated last November.
Statistics show that one kilogram of pine nut was sold for AFs1,000 last year while it is sold for around AFs2,000 this year.
“Since the inauguration of the air corridor between Afghanistan and China, 63 flights have transferred over 1,300 tons of pine nuts to Shanghai,” said Rasa.
Afghanistan’s total pine nut output is 23,000 metric tons a year, and China is the major importer of the product. The country is known throughout the world for its fresh and dry fruits.
Pine nut trees are mostly found in Afghanistan’s eastern and central provinces of Kapisa, Nangarhar, Laghman, Nuristan, Kunar, Paktia, Khost and Paktika provinces. Pine nuts also constitute one of the major income sources for local people in these areas.
Based on statistics, the overall prices of Afghan black pine nuts is estimated at $2 billion annually.
Health Benefits of Pine Nuts
- Pine nuts are one of the calorie-rich edible nuts. 100g of dry kernels provide 673 calories. Additionally, they comprise numerous health benefits, promoting phytochemicals, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.
- Their high caloric content chiefly comes from fats. Indeed, the nuts are especially rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid which helps lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increases HDL or "good cholesterol" in the blood.
- Pine or cedar nuts contain essential fatty acid (the omega-6 fat), pinolenic acid. Recent research has shown its potential use in weight loss by curbing the appetite. Pinolenic acid triggers the release of hunger-suppressant enzymes cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in the gut. Also, pinolenic acid has thought to have LDL-lowering properties by enhancing hepatic LDL uptake.
- Likewise in almonds, pine nuts too are an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of the cell membrane of mucosa and skin by protecting it from harmful free oxygen radicals.
- Furthermore, pine nuts are one of the gluten-free tree nuts and, therefore, are a popular ingredient in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations can be a healthy alternative for people with wheat allergies and celiac disease.
- Pine nuts are an excellent source of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins work as co-factors for enzymes in cellular substrate metabolism inside the human body.
- Furthermore, pine nuts contain healthy amounts of essential minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Pine nuts are one of the richest sources of manganese. Manganese is an all-important co-factor for antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Therefore, consumption of pine kernels helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenges harmful oxygen-free radicals.