Afghanistan: Taliban earn millions of dollars selling pistachios
"According to experts from the agricultural sector, the Taliban collect about 15 million dollars a year from the sale of pistachios from the forests in the district of Koshki Kohna," says local governor, Sayed Muhammad Chashti.
He said that there used to be 45,000 hectares of pistachio forests but that there currently only were 30,000 left because the rest had been destroyed by powerful people and insurgents.
"The forests are fully under the control of insurgent armed gangs and neither the local government nor the people can harvest the crops - only the Taliban do it," he said.
The harvest of wild forests was the responsibility of the Government and they had rules that prevented outsiders from interfering.
The Archliq and Pastaliq forests were under the protection of the Border Police and the local police, the farmers and herders were not allowed to enter them.
Chashti said that now the "Taliban with the help of powerful men are gathering the pistachios, even before the harvest", which has brought down the product's quality and decreased its market price.
Violence has increased in Afghanistan since the end of the combat mission of NATO in the country on January 1, 2015.
The insurgents have gained terrain and reduced the territory held by the Government to only 57% of the total, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan's Reconstruction (SIGAR) of the US Congress. ■