U.S. Military Take a Trip to the Market

National Guard surveys Afghani shops and vendors, find differences in how business conducted.

Published on: Jan 2, 2012

The Zabul Agri-Business Development Team, made up of National Guardsmen from Minnesota and Mississippi, have completed a foot patrol through the main bazaar in Qalat, to survey shops and meet with vendors and traders of agricultural goods. What they found were key differences between the way business is conducted in Afghanistan and back home. According to Lt. Col. Ken DeGier of Echo, Minnesota, prices are not marked and haggling is the preferred system of arriving at an agreement between consumer and vendor.

The team spent the majority of their time in the bazaar visiting one of the larger almond markets, trying to determine pricing and the economic flow of one of Zabul Province's staple crops. Members of the team discussed value chains and the process by which almonds are harvested and brought to market with the almond merchants. DeGier believes - if a farmer wants to sell his corn that day, he receives the posted price. That being said, the market here is working. All parties involved are satisfied.

The ZADT's main task after surveying markets will be to assist the Afghan Department of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock in ensuring that goods from the rural parts of Zabul make their way to functioning markets as effectively as possible. Still, some glaring similarities exist. Shops on the street sell hot breakfast and lunch, steaming fresh rice and hot tea to customers that stand together talking about the day ahead, much like main street diners in the U.S.