This working paper draws on five case studies from the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium and its partners, and other primary and secondary evidence, to review current understanding of agricultural commodity and rural labour markets in Afghanistan, and explore the pervasive social regulations that structure them.
Despite some limited commercialisation, the country’s rural economy remains in poor health. Agricultural policy has focused on production, value-chain efficiencies and price, as well as abstract projections of potential productivity changes, growth and job creation.
In order to better understand how external interventions can promote growth and ensure better distributional outcomes, we must: 1) consider how domestic production and demand can be stimulated; 2) recognise commodity markets as complex systems 3) move beyond simplistic models of analysis and policy-making that bear little relation to how markets operate in practice; 4) learn lessons from approaches to analysing the opium poppy market; 5) broaden our understanding of the multiple dimensions of risk that the free-market model does not consider, including access to assets and uncertain institutional environments; 6) recognise the political and social structure of markets in Afghanistan, in order to address the systemic changes that are needed to enable economic growth.
You can access the accompanying policy briefing to this working paper here.