Under the project of “Reversing Deforestation and Degradation in High Conservation Value Chilgoza Pine Forests in Pakistan”, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has inaugurated “chilghoza” (pine nut) processing unit in Chilas, Diamer district of Gilgit Baltistan.
FAO and the forest department representatives jointly inaugurated the unit at Chilas, one of the primary markets of Chilgoza Pine in Gilgit Baltistan on a pilot basis.
According to the press statement on Tuesday, “The project was funded by the Global Environment Fund and implemented under the oversight of the Ministry of Climate Change. The project is additionally contributing 23 million trees to the Ten Billion Trees Programme of the MoCC.”
Chilghoza pine forest in Diamer district covers an area of almost 18,000 hectares. The local community is also involved in the project within the protection and conservation of forest for value chain development.
“Since the key issue faced by the local community was the lack of access to chilgoza processing unit, the FAO through the project, installed a chilgoza processing unit at Chilas, Diamer covering chilgoza cleaning, grading, roasting, packing and labelling,” the statement read.
Mina Dowlatchahi FAO Country Representative while speaking on the occasion, emphasized the significance of the processing unit to ensure the benefits arising from natural resources management. She added that this would be the first time that local people of Diamer district will be able to process their harvest, from grading to packaging and labelling — in one place.
Dowlatchahi went on to say, “This will help them obtain a higher price in the market compared to selling cones or unroasted nuts. It is hoped that these economic benefits will increase the efforts and community engagements in chilgoza forest conservation.”
FAO Representative Programme Assistant Dr Aamer Irshad said that this project is the opportunity for these communities to learn how to leverage information technology to access high-end markets.
National Project Coordinator Dr Faizul Bari appreciated the cooperation and said, “This initiative is much appreciated by local communities as the processing unit will allow them to sell a finished product at a higher price and also will increase the shelf life of roasted nuts up to six months.”