I. Pakistan Pine Nuts Production
In season 2015/2016, Pakistan produced 3,000 MT(kernel basis) of pine nuts, equals to that in the previous season, representing 15% of the global production. China remained the largest pine nut producer despite the sharp decrease, with a crop of 5,000 Mt, accounting for 26% of world production. The second largest producer is the Russian Federation (4,050 MT, 21% share), followed by North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan (3.000 MT, 15% share). Pakistani pine nuts were exported to China, US, UK, Scandinavian countries, Middle East and Europe.
The Chilgoza pine (Pinus gerardiana Wall. ex. D. Don) is found in the western Himalayan forests of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, growing at elevations between 1800 to 3350 meters. In Pakistan, Chilgoza is found in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan Provinces, the Northern Areas (Gilgit Agency) and Kashmir. Chilgoza pine is a hardy tree and can endure excessive drought, high winds, and severe cold in the winter. Nearly 20 percent of the Pakistani forests comprise of Chilgoza trees.
II. Benefits and Value of Pinus gerardiana
Chilgoza contains palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic fatty acids, and are high in calcium and other minerals including phosphorous and iron. They also contain vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). The tree exudes an oleoresin when tapped which is a good source of turpentine oil. The cones exude a white resin which is used to patch up wooden containers. The bark is used for making baskets and buckets. The wood is used as timber and fuelwood. The branches are used as roof thatching materials in houses.
Chilgoza pines have a similar appearance as stone pines and feature long slender, pointed kernels. Chilgoza is a signature dried fruit during winter in Pakistan. People make a snack called Kish Kish by mixing chilgoza with jaggery, peanuts, walnuts, sultanas and dried coconut shreds, and eat it on cold mornings to boost energy.
Chilgoza nuts are eaten raw or roasted. They have a rich flavor and creamy consistency and work well in European recipes such as pesto. Pakistani pine is the biggest size kernel in the world. Large Pine Nuts are ideal for snacking, cooking, baking, blending, or topping foods.
III. Pine Nut Processing In Pakistan
The harvest season begins in early September. Local people collect green cones by self-picking from trees and bury for about a fortnight till the cones open. Or cones are heaped and dried in the sun to allow open. Usually, cones from trees are collected by a long pole with an iron hock at the end. The injury is thus caused to the tree. Often men climb up the trees, causing many branches to be broken. The seeds are extracted by knocking cones against a hard surface. After seed extraction, pine nuts are roasted in their shell to improve flavor and shelf life. They are roasted in iron containers by mixing with soil over a fire.
IV. Pine Nut Processing Machine
4.1. Pine Cone Drying Machine
Pine cones can be dried using hot air drying oven. The drying oven can be heated by steam or electricity. It has high efficiency and can dry evenly. Different capacities are designed for this machine.
4.2. Pine Nut Roasting Machine
For the different purpose and different capacity, there are various roasting machines for choice. Medium nut roasting machine is ideal for commercial use. Mini nut roasting machine is flexible and easy to move anywhere.
Pine nuts are covered with a hard shell. The removal of shell when consumption is troublesome. Chilgoza seed is cylindrical and 2 to 3 centimetres long. We have specially designed a pine nut shelling unit for Pakistan customers. The shelling unit consists of pine nut grading machine, pine nut shelling machine, and pine nut kernel & shell separating machine. The pine nut grader is mainly used for grading different sizes of pine nuts before shelling so that to reduce shelling broken rate. Pine nut sheller can be customized for processing pine nuts of any size. Pine nut kernel & shell separator is used for separating kernels from shells after shelling process.
4.4 Pine Nut Peeling Machine
Shelled Chilgoza nuts have a thin skin which can be removed by pine nut peeling machine. The machine can process dried or roasted pine nuts into peeled kernels without damage.
4.5. Pine Nut Oil Press
Pine nut can be pressed by screw oil press to produce pine nut oil. Screw press has high oil yield covering little space. It has the capacity of 1-18 ton per day. Integrated screw oil press can filter oil at the same time.
V. Chilgoza Trees are in Need of Protection
Chilghoza pine tree is very slow growing. In the year 2013, it was assessed as Near Threatened (NT) species under IUCN red list (IUCN, 2015). The Chilgoza forests of Sulaiman Range are the world’s largest pure stand covering a total area about 260 km2. This forest provides habitat to the Markhor species which is also endangered under IUCN red list. The forest has provided an essential source of livelihoods for local communities and has the potential to reduce soil erosion.
However, the forests are under great threat due to uncontrolled cutting and extensive grazing on land. Communities cut down trees for space, for fue, and for livelihood. Middlemen make huge profits while locals earn little. Therefore they resort to cutting trees for timber rather than collecting nuts. As demand grows, pine nuts are increasingly collected unsustainably. Instead of leaving a few cones thus allowing natural regeneration, communities gather all the cones they find.
NaturePakistan (WWF) has set up a project to cut out the middlemen who buy chilgozas from villagers. Also, the harvesters get 2000 rupees for each tree they fell currently, but there is now a 10,000 rupee fine for cutting down a young tree.