Businessmen in southern Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces have called on government to help resolve challenges they have in exporting pine nuts.
According to them, more than 40,000 tons of pine nuts was harvested this year but much of this was smuggled to Pakistan.
A number of pine nut merchants said they have been forced to sell their produce to Pakistan cheaply due to problems in the export sector.
“This year, the harvest of black pine nuts was good, from about three provinces, Paktia, Paktika and Khost, we had about 40,000 to 45,000 tons of the crop, which was exported to Pakistan; Pakistan then exported this to China and other countries under their own name,” said Rahmatullah Mukhlis, a pine nut businessman in Paktia.
“If government and the ACCI (Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry) cooperate with us and the nuts are packed well, we can export abroad but unfortunately all the nuts are exported illegally and neither government benefits nor do the businessmen,” said Ghulam Hazrat another businessman in Paktia.
In addition, officials from the pine nut exporters union in Khost said that due to the lack of alternative markets, a huge amount of the produce is smuggled to Pakistan.
“China is the global market for pine nuts – and we don’t have an official agreement and we ask the president to sign a contract with China, so we can export to China and other countries. The other problem we face is that we don’t have cold storage units and we must sell our produce quickly and at cheap prices,” said Anar Gul, the deputy head of the union.
“Our survey shows that this year we had around 10,000 to 15,000 tons of pine nuts and fortunately had a good market. Pine nuts to the value of $20 to $25 million USD was sold this (solar) year but unfortunately these nuts were not exported legally,” said Nasir Alam Mir, head of Khost ACCI.
Khost pine nut exporters said that every year, Pakistan benefits from the illegal export of pine nuts from Afghanistan.