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From war to peace via Chilgoza

By Pashtana Durrani-An inauguration ceremony was held in Kabul Serena on the 13th of March. Professionals from every field were in the ceremony. The inauguration mainly focused on production, research, export of Chilgoza (Nut) via different routes.

Chilgoza is a top list dry fruit in Afghanistan, every year 27-35 thousand metric tonnes is produced and raw/unprocessed Chilgoza 1 kg sold for 15 dollars across the border on illegal terms and ways. Farmers and traders risking their lives to sell to their Chilgoza, as they don’t have a buyer in Afghanistan and if not processed and stored at a specific temperature and Humidity they go rancid, so the Chilgoza is traded through the porous border illegally and sold at a lower price. Farmers are told they will be given the money when their Chilgoza is sold. When sold and processed in Peshawar, Lahore and Pindi, it is then exported under the Pakistani label without specifying the origin of the Chilgoza. It is then exported to China and worldwide. China is number one exporter and Pakistan is second on the list as exporter and producer. A 500-600 Million USD industry is actually run managed by Pakistan. But if processed and packaged in Kabul, the product will increase farmer’s revenue by 0.8-1 billion USD and government revenue through taxation to 40-90 Million USD, if traded through legal ways.

The farmers looted and vandalized in Afghanistan are left with nothing.

The Chilgoza could be seen as huge opportunity for Afghans in Khost Paktia, Paktika, Nangarhar and Nuristan besides saffron, pomegranates or grapes in other areas of Afghanistan. Chilgoza is a nut found wild trees, tree that will go extinct in the next 20 years. To sustain the production of pine nuts and wild trees, create jobs, Afghan Pine Nuts union was inaugurated and a MoU was signed between Azizi Bank and APCPP to develop the processing industry in Kabul and in respective provinces.

The CEO, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah invited APCPP team to present their presentation to the cabinet of Ministers so that we start owning our own raw materials on national levels.

The inauguration attracted number of investors, stakeholders and participants who were interested in expanding their business in Afghanistan nuts industry such as the Chinese counselor Tian Guanglei (Economic and commercial counselor).

The Chilgoza will bring prosperity to Afghanistan on national and international level.

If a farmer is given a fair price on time he won’t take up arms says Afghan Pine Nuts Advisor. If people are not forced to sell their raw materials at cheap prices they won’t trade it illegally. We need to build a system to facilitate the pine nuts farmers and we need to provide a platform to address their issues. The provinces might have security risks but we can lower the risk by providing people with jobs so that they can feed their children. So that women at home can also take part in this initiative and that they are not robbed of their rights jobs or anything because of illegal business and because we don’t have a processing industry. A road to peace is via Chilgoza when it comes to Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Nangarhar and Nuristan. They won’t take up arms if they have a decent way to earn their living.

 Any initiative that supports Afghan economy, creates jobs for in Afghanistan and promotes peace is important for every Afghan individual. Supporting it is our duty as Afghan.

The writer is social and political activist, works as global youth representative for Amnesty International and as youth ambassador for Marie Stopes international, mostly focusing on policy making—also writer and aide to Afghanistan Times Daily—-typically active in Southern Afghanistan (Kandahar).

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