ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Social Regulation of the Onion Market, Nangarhar, Afghanistan

Peeling the Onion

Afghanistan's hope that market-driven agriculture will ensure its economic transformation demonstrates a wilful disregard of the links between the economic and political marketplaces in the country, and the pervasive rent-seeking practices of informal and formal power holders. This paper, based on a study of the onion markets in Nangarhar, a south-eastern province, reports on how an agricultural commodity market works in practice, and the ways in which social relationships regulate access to it. It is not access to credit and market information that constrains growth, as aid agencies seem to believe, but the practices of a trade elite that largely operates on informal credit and relationships of trust based on close personal networks.

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