KABUL: As one of the daily wagers involved in cleaning pine nuts on the outskirts of Kabul, the national capital of Afghanistan, Khala Fatima was delighted to witness more such nuts exported to China.
The increase in pine nut exports to China has created job opportunities in Afghanistan as hundreds of thousands of Afghans work to clean and process the precious dry fruit to make it ready for export.
"I have been working here for the past six years, and the pine nut exports to China make us happy because we work here and earn our livelihood. Exporting pine nuts there (China) creates job opportunities for us," Fatima told Xinhua at her work site recently.
Depending on daily income to support her family, including her husband with disabilities, Fatima said, "There are eight people at our home. I, along with my daughters, have been working here for the past six years to run our daily life to buy cooking oil and other daily necessities."
Afghanistan's pine nuts, which mainly grow in the eastern forests, are regarded as one of the most valuable export items of the war-ravaged country.
The price of 1 kg of pine nuts in the local market is 3,000 afghanis (about 43 U.S. dollars) nowadays, but in overseas markets, the price would double.
However, the pine nut harvest has fallen this year.
Afghanistan reportedly exports more than 5,000 tons of pine nuts annually on average, mostly to the neighboring country China.
Although this year's pine nut harvest is down compared to last year, the price is higher, Shir Ali Zadran, a local businessman in Kabul, said, adding that 90 percent of the pine nuts will be exported to China, and the remaining 10 percent will go to other countries and regions.
"We would export about 3,000 tons of pine nuts this year, of which 2,600 or 2,700 tons would be exported to China and the rest to Arab countries, Canada and Europe," Zadran told Xinhua.
"Since a deal was reached with China and pine nut exports to the country were initiated, job opportunities have been created for many people. There are many companies (involved in the pine nut industry), and hundreds of people are working directly (in the industry) and thousands of others indirectly," the businessman said.