Traditional and alternative techniques of Chilgoza Pine (Pinus gerardiana Wall.ex D. Don) nut harvesting and processing in Afghanistan.
Author(s): Safiullah Khurram, Mohammad Nasir Shalizi
Chilgoza pine nut is an important non-timber forest product (NTFP) of Afghanistan. Chilgoza pine cones reach at maturity in August and cone collection continues until the end of September. Local communities and or contractors harvest pine cones from chilgoza trees every year. Usually, chilgoza pine cones are harvested unsustainably in Afghanistan. People harvest cones from chilgoza trees without considering tree health and natural regeneration. The extraction process of pine nut is also unsustainable and time consuming. In this study, we investigated traditional chilgoza pine cone harvesting and pine nut extraction techniques across the chilgoza pine range in Afghanistan. Our study revealed that mostly chilgoza pine cones are collected by contractors however, this trend is region dependent. In the eastern provinces, cones are predominantly harvested by villagers; while in southern provinces cones are usually harvested by contractors. Cones of chilgoza pine is collected with a sharp hook attached to the end of a long stick and or small axes. The most common method of cone drying is sun and air dry. Once dried, scales of the cones open naturally and pine nuts are extracted by beating the cones with a stick or over a hard surface. Traditional methods can be replaced by use of better harvesting equipment and extraction techniques. With the use of better equipment, damages can be reduced to trees during cone harvesting.
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