04 Aug. 2008

PR# 2008-362

ISAF team helps guard pistachio forests

The 90,000 hectares of pistachio forests here are threatened by early harvesting and deforestation for firewood.

KABUL, Afghanistan - A couple of kilometres north of Qala-e-Naw in Badghis province, the Earth gives one of her few gifts to this country.

Early in the morning during this time of year, the noise of people and vehicles — trucks and small motorcycles loaded at their maximum capacity — can be heard from Qala-e-Naw to the near forests. The pistachio may be the most important natural resources in Afghanistan. The gathering, in the extensions of pistachio forest, is traditionally free for anyone who wants to venture to it, not only for the citizens of the province but of the whole country.

The pistachio campaign is the most important socio-economic event of the year for the province, with its 90,000 hectares of pistachio forests. In addition to providing local families sustenance for several months, the shells from the annual pistachio crop are burned for heat during the winter.

The Afghan government in Badghis has noticed an increasing problem: uncontrolled exploitation of this resource.  The massive arrival of people is occurring earlier in the season every year, not allowing the crop to mature appropriately.

To help, ISAF’s nearby Spanish Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is assisting the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police with restricting access to pistachios forests before the official authorization. This also promotes the repopulation of the plantation.

According to Badghis Governor Mohammad Ashraf Naseri, the PRT’s contribution is fundamental for the region’s security. He is also hopefully that, with the Spanish PRT’s help, it may be possible to bring electricity to the population, avoiding the cutting of the pistachio forests for firewood during the winter.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/