Kinetic theory for the emergence of complex behavior in social and economic systems

Modeling Crop Choice of Subsistence Farmers in Afghanistan

Edward MacKerrow

Los Alamos National Laboratory


Farmers in Afghanistan are faced with complex decisions of crop choice. Expected precipitation, security, availability of land, debt denominated in opium and/or cash, and patronage networks effect the choice of whether to grow food, marijuana, or opium crops. A rich set of data has been collected via surveys on why Afghanistan farmers have chosen to cultivate, or not cultivate, opium. We have developed an agent-based simulation using these data on choices in an attempt to reproduce some of the general trends measured in opium economics in Afghanistan. I will present our current progress and challenges we have discovered in our attempt to build a simulation that could be useful for policy design and testing.