Rural Development Economics

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About us

fotohomepage.jpgAs part of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, the Rural Development Economics studies and teaches on agricultural development in the South.

We are particularly interested in researching how agricultural activities could be improved for farmers to gain income and improve their food security.

We follow a micro-economic approach to study how institutional changes such as market access or cooperative membership could affect farmer households’ or farm works’ livelihoods towards higher levels of food security and wellbeing.


Prof. Marijke D’Haese
Department of Agricultural Economics
Ghent University


Office: A2.095, Blok A
Coupure links 653
9000 Gent, Belgium


We provide education on development economics, rural development and agricultural economics of developing countries to master students in the programmes of Nutrition and Rural Development, and International Master in Rural Development.
These courses are also elective in the master programmes of Bio-science engineering, Economic studies (Master in economics, applied economics and general economics), Conflict & development. Furthermore, we ensure transferable skills courses in rural project management and scientific communication for students in the above-mentioned master programmes. We yearly supervise between 5 to 10 master dissertations.

Research focus

foto2homepage.jpgWe study the aforementioned impact of institutional changes on three output variables, namely food security and family income, improved access to better markets, and sustainable access to (natural) resources. Research projects address one, two or three of these output variables.

While most research takes the farm/rural household as focal point, other studies focus on farm workers and the institutional environment (formal, informal governance structures). Overall, the core business remains how better balanced access to resources (land, trees, nature, inputs), better markets (contracts, cooperatives, labels, more efficient value chains), and better food, could improve rural people’s livelihoods.

The geographic focus is on a number of African and Latin American countries. More in particular, we do research in Burundi, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and South Africa (Africa), and Ecuador, Colombia and Cuba (Latin America). Past research also included Senegal, Kenya, Costa Rica and Vietnam.

On-going research is (co-)funded by Ghent University, Own Research Funds (BOF) of Ghent University, Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR-UOS), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC).



Marijke D’Haese

I am professor in rural development economics. I am involved in 10 PhD projects which all research different aspects of agricultural development in the South.

I spent my childhood in Africa and returned to home-country Belgium to study bioscience engineering at Ghent University. I graduated in 1997, after which I was appointed as a research assistant at the Department of Agricultural Economics of that university. This six-years teaching-research appointment resulted in a PhD on the economics of woolgowers’ associations in the Transkei region in South Africa in 2003. In 2004 I left Ghent to work as an assistant professor at the Development Economics Group at Wageningen University. I came back to Ghent in 2007, first as post-doc assistant and from 2010 on a tenure-track contract.

My research interests are reflected in the research that is ongoing in the group and my publications on past projects. Each new project brings new insights, new solutions but also new questions. Each new question triggers my curiosity and researcher’s mind, which I try to pass on to students and PhD researchers. I teach on development economics and agricultural development.