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Chilghoza production; poverty stricken people of hilly areas earn ‘bread n butter’

Rafiullah Mandokhail

ZHOB: Chilghoza (Pine-nut) – the dry fruit grown naturally in hilly areas, arrived here in the local market. Soon after the arrival of the fruit, traders thronged the market to purchase the pine-nuts from the local traders and transport to other parts of the country for selling on exorbitant prices.

The production of pine-nuts plays a vital role as local people earn handsome revenue every year. Rates of the fruit in Zhob market this year ranges between Rs 60.000 to Rs 80,000 per 40kg. People belonging to Toor ghar, Manna, Usei, Shin ghar (Otozai, Malezai Hariphal) sell the fruit in the local market to earn bread and butter.

Chilghoza is an important non-timber forest product, grown in hilly areas of Zhob (Gustoi Mandokhail) and Sherani, from where it is exported to Lahore and Bannu markets. Both historically and geographically, Zhob is an area of lush green mountainous range and great diversity of forest wealth. Pine-nuts of this remote and poverty stricken areas are widely known across the country. The Asian variety of pine-nuts found up in the Suleman mountains – an extension of the Hindu Kush mountains.

Zaro Khan Sherani of Killi Shna Kazha Qaisa ghar says, the pine cones reach at maturity in August and the collection continues until the start of October. Local people harvest pine cones from the trees during the harvesting season in mountainous areas.

“The young men in groups move onto the slopes to pluck the pine cones (called in Pashto Oshkay). The mature pine cones containing pine-nuts are ready to harvest ten days before the green cones begin to open. It takes around three weeks from that time until the cones fully open,” Zaro Khan adds that once it is fully opened the pine-nuts can be easily extracted. For plucking the cones a sharp hook attached to the end of a long stick is used, which knocks the cones down.” He explains.

The precious forests of pine nuts and olive play an important role, besides being a credible source of income to local people. But unfortunately, the area people are very callously cutting such valuable trees. Resultantly, Chilghoza forests have shrunk rapidly in the region. In recent past thousands of nut-producing trees have been chopped down for firewood use by the local residents of the cold hilly areas. If timely and concrete steps were not taken immediately, the remaining forests will disappear in near future.

 

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