(TOLO news): Work on the factory has started, and six processing machines will be installed, said the investor, Haji Mohammad Gardizi. The target output of the factory is “500 (metric) tons of pine nuts in 24 hours.” Gardizi did not mention an exact time for the factory’s completion but said that over 100 workers are employed and it will be completed in the near future. “This factory will solve the problem of the pine nut-producing provinces, including Khost, Paktika, Paktia,” he said. “Previously, Afghan pine nuts were sent to Pakistan for processing and then were exported to other countries from there, but it has changed over the past three years. Now, pine nuts are called the ‘black diamond,’ and their price is increasing.” The head of the Chamber of Commerce and Investment in Paktia, Abdul Nasir Alamyar, said the factory will have the capacity to process and packaging 60,000 metric tons of pine nut a year. “The processing center is the first ever in this part of the country and it is a big achievement for the government and for the farmers,” Alamyar said. “Our demand from the government is to prevent pine nut smuggling–even one kilogram should not be smuggled and it should be processed here and exported to other countries.” Some locals who are constructing the factory said there is a need for such initiatives to provide jobs for Afghans in every part of the country. “I have come from Logar province. It is a good opportunity and it helps me afford the needs of my family,” said Yaqoot Shah, a resident of Logar. Back in February, another Afghan investor put up $5 million to make a facility to process pine nuts locally. Figures by the Ministry of Agriculture show that Afghanistan produces 23,000 metric tons of pine nut a year, especially in Paktia, Khost, and Paktika provinces. The figures also show that almost 1,700 tons of pine nuts met international standards and were exported to China, the Gulf and Europe over the past few years, and the amount should increase this year. The price of a single kilogram of pine nuts in local markets is up to Afs2,800 ($35).