Afghan pine nut traders face major losses due to export and storage problems

By Khalid Zerai

This photo taken September 15 shows a pine nut market in Khost city. [Courtesy of Khalid Zerai]

This photo taken September 15 shows a pine nut market in Khost city. [Courtesy of Khalid Zerai]

KHOST -- Pine nut traders in Khost province say they are having trouble selling some 2,500 metric tonnes of the lucrative seeds because of high export costs and a lack of trade partners.

Khost traders used to export pine nuts to China with good revenues until last year, said Noorgul Mangal, president of the Afghanistan Pine Nuts Union.

"We used to export pine nuts to China very easily during the previous government," he said. "The transport cost for exporting 1kg of pine nuts was $3, of which the government used to pay $1.50. The traders would pay the other $1.50."

"But now each trader has to pay $4.50/kg. Because of that [higher transport cost], some have traders started exporting via Pakistan, which costs under $2/kg."

Afghan traders trying to export directly to China have to use planes, while the Afghan-Pakistani-Chinese route uses much cheaper surface transport.

"Afghan traders thought they would export pine nuts again directly to China with lower costs; therefore, they bought pine nuts at a higher price in Afghanistan," he said. "But they were told about the $4.50 export cost later."

"Unfortunately, we do not have Afghan traders in China, while Pakistani traders sell our pine nuts [in China]," Mangal said. "They tell me that they haven't been able to sell all of the pine nuts already in China."

"I think the Pakistani traders care more about their interests and do not try their best to sell the pine nuts," he said.

"Afghan traders will suffer great losses if proper trading relations are not established with different countries and if pine nuts are not exported from Kabul directly," he added.

Lack of support

Hukumran, a pine nut trader in Khost province, said he has almost 13 metric tonnes of pine nuts that he is unable to sell.

"Although pine nut production was higher this year than in previous years, no one supported its export," he said. "Many Afghan pine nuts were smuggled to Pakistan and exported to China as a [supposedly] Pakistani product, while nobody is taking measures to facilitate the export of the remaining pine nuts in Afghanistan."

Awalmir Mutaqi, another trader based in Khost, complained that he exported pine nuts from Afghanistan to China at a high transport cost by air, while pine nuts exported via Pakistan enjoyed lower surface transport costs. Therefore, his pine nuts have yet to be sold in the Chinese markets

"I exported 18 metric tonnes of pine nuts from Kabul to China with an export cost of $4.50/kg," he said. "About 20 days later, Afghan pine nuts were brought to China via Pakistan at a much lower [surface] transport cost, which killed the market for us. Now, I will suffer great losses if I lower my prices there."

The lack of export avenues for Afghans requires a viable solution, say economists.

"Afghanistan should trade directly with the world without a third country intermediary," said Abdul Mubeen Storai, an economist in Kabul.

"It is a bitter reality that some Afghan products are still sold in the world markets under the name of neighbouring countries," he said. "If the issue of pine nut exports is not resolved swiftly and cost-efficiently directly from Kabul ... we will suffer great economic losses very soon."

Lack of proper cold storage

The lack of proper cold storage is another major issue that is yet to be addressed.

Traders say they have moved almost 2.5 metric tonnes of pine nuts from warm provinces to the mountains and other colder areas to prevent spoilage.

Abdul Rahman Afghan, a trader from Paktia province, said he bought 8 metric tonnes of pine nuts from Khost some time ago, but he could not sell them because of the unfavourable market.

A few days after he purchased the pine nuts, "their prices dropped ... and the prices kept going down", he said.

"The weather also got hotter, and I had to transfer them to Paktia, where I keep them now in a cold area."

Hashem is another trader who has transferred a few metric tonnes of pine nuts from hot Khost to his cooler village and has stored them on a mountain.

"Lack of cold storage is a serious issue," said Hashem, another trader who moved his supply of pine nuts to his village in the mountains.

"The traders who still have pine nuts left had to transfer them either to mountainous areas or to cold storage in Kabul and Gardez," he said.

"Cold storage in Kabul and Gardez is not at the level that it should be," he added. "We call on the international aid organisations to help us in this area."

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well, its not like you mentioned in your article... transport, insurance are also very expensive from Afghanistan.. few days ago Afghanistan send pinenuts via dubai... but the thing you guys have to understand that PAKISTAN always helps you, we open borders for you, I'm pinenuts exporter i tell everyone that i take this from Afghanistan we don't use our name ... but you giys never trust us, you are fucking idiots, PAKISTAN always help you ... i send 30000 jute bags from PAKISTAN, why then you take it from PAKISTAN, make in Afghanistan... so don't blame PAKISTAN, its your own shittt so clean it by yourself.


Well, for 20 years, Pakistan has sponsored terrorists, provided them with weapons, trained them, equipped them and gave them sanctuary. Do you believe they did these for the sake of God? The leading players are undoubtedly the intelligence organizations of the world's superpowers. Pakistan implements their projects, but in the meantime, by supporting the Taliban, Pakistan had its own goals. That was Afghanistan's looting and beating in all fields by the Taliban. It is not merely pine nuts. Coal mines, Afghan army ammunition, precious stones, and other Afghan natural resources are looted by Pakistan. Pakistan also wants to lift its bankrupted economy by misusing the name of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is literally under the occupation of Pakistan, and as long as the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, Pakistan will continue to control Afghanistan.


Pine nuts would be wasted undoubtedly, Afghanistan will face economic stagnation, and personal, scientific, and educational freedoms will be restricted, and the duplicity of Afghanistan's international friends motivates this. Even though the Americans knew that Pakistan supported the Taliban and their centers were in Pakistan, they came and killed Afghans. Still, they did not put Pakistan on the list of sponsors of terrorism, nor did they impose any economic sanctions on that country. According to a report, I just read: in his recent statements, Tom West, the US special representative for Afghanistan's affairs, criticized the Quetta Shura [Council] of Taliban and regarded it as the reason for the Doha Peace Agreement's failure. He said that the peace agreement between the Taliban and the United States also had issues that provoked the failure of peace efforts. Among the peace advocates of the overthrown republican system, some people did not understand the facts and offered conditions for peace that were unacceptable to the Taliban, Tom West added. He said that the Quetta Shura of the Taliban also decided to take over Afghanistan by force and they enforced the decision. Composition of the Quetta Shura of Taliban is not known well. Still, a large number of their leadership, especially most of the leaders of the Taliban in Loy Kandahar, including Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, were gathered in this council. Earlier, reports of increasing internal discrepancies among the Taliban