Afghan pine nut traders have been blocked by Pakistan

Pine nut traders in southern Khost province complain Pakistan has blocked transit routes trade and truckloads of their fruits are going rotten.

Afghan pine nut traders in Khost claimed the Pakistani military had blocked roads for unknown reasons. Shahzada Zadran, head of Pine Nut Traders Union, told Pajhwok Afghan News Pakistan had blocked the Angor Ada border once again.

They have to pay a higher of tax at Torkham border crossing. “Pakistan demands 100 rupees on each kilogram of pine nut in tax. People cannot pay 10,000 rupees for a 100-kg bag of pine nut. Our vehicles full of the fruit have to wait long for the border opening in Angor Ada,” he noted.

According to official statistics, Afghanistan exported 3,500 tonnes of pine nut worth $77 million to Pakistan and China. Traders say a tonne of the fruit cost $22,000 in 2016 but its price fluctuate this year as its transportation was blocked.

Banizar Khan, a pine nut merchant, said they had collected higher amounts of the fruit this year. But the pine nut could decay if the transit routes were not reopened soon.

“Our president says all routes are open, but no route is open for us. We should be facilitated in transferring the fruit directly to China,” he demanded.

Meanwhile, Nawab Amirzai, head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) for Khost, accused the government of having failed to find international market for fresh and dry fruits including pine nut.

“Efforts are underway and a plan has been prepared to gain access to the international market for our pine nuts. The issue also discussed with the Chinese ambassador. Some Chinese traders have also visited Khost province,” he said.

Traders demanded fruits be prevented from going rotten and the government should provide standard facilities of processing and packaging of pine nuts.

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