Johan Bastiaensen


Johan Bastiaensen is professor at the Institute of Development Policy  (IOB), University of Antwerp, Belgium and associate researcher at the Instituto Nitlapan, Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), Managua, Nicaragua. His main research interest lies with the transformative role of microfinance for a more socially inclusive and environmentally less destructive rural-agricultural development. This research is inspired by critical institutional theory and is often done in cooperation with the Instituto Nitlapan in Nicaragua, academic partner of the IOB since 1988. Much of the applied research is related to the policy debates  in the context of the Fondo de Desarrollo Local (FDL), today one of the largest and most agricultural microfinance institutions in Nicaragua.


Hubert Cochet


Hubert Cochet is an agricultural economist and geographer who studies the evolution of agrarian systems, with a particular focus on the ways in which they are influenced by development policies and projects. He worked in Mexico from 1984 until 1989 (completing a PhD in Compartive Agriculture with INA-PG/IRD), after which he continued researching agrarian dynamics in Andean countries; Sub-Saharan Africa (including a stay in Burundi from 1990 until 1993, followed by Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Guinea and Sierra Leone); southern Africa (South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania) and the Ukraine. Since 2000 he is research director in human, economic and regional geography at Université Paris X Nanterre. Today, he is professor in Comparative Agriculture at AgroParisTech and director of the Comparative Agriculture and Agricultural Development Research Unit (Unité de Formation et de Recherche Agriculture Comparée et Développement Agricole). His current research focuses on a comparative approach towards agrarian dynamics in multiple countries in the global North and South, linked to questions of land tenure, adaptation to climate change and ‘modes of production’.



Samir El Ouaamari



Samir El Ouaamari is agronomist and geographer. He is a Researcher-professor at the Comparative Agriculture and Agricultural Development Research Unit at AgroParisTech. In his doctoral thesis he researched the development of cash crops in the South, taking as an example the cultivation of coffee in Ethiopia. For over four years, he worked as a consultant for Agter with various studies in different countries, including Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guatemala and Mexico. All the studies were related to questions of peasant agriculture and development projects, analyzing the effects of these projects on the socio-economic differentiation in these rural areas.


Selmira Flores




Nadège Garambois





Nadège Garambois is an Assistant Professor in Comparative Agriculture and Agricultural Development Unit at AgroParisTech since 2011, and member of Prodig Unit. She is an agroeconomist graduated from the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon (2006) and holds a doctorate in Compared Agriculture from AgroParisTech (2011).

As an extension of her thesis work (Evaluation of grassland inputs-saving cattle systems in West of France, 2007-2011), her research focuses on agrarian dynamics in France, in particular on the development of production systems that contribute more to sustainable development. She also conducts research on agrarian dynamics and evaluation of agricultural development projects and policies in southern countries (Guinea, Senegal, Comoros, Himalaya).



Frédéric Huybrechs


Frédéric Huybrechs is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp, Belgium. He currently studies the role of microfinance in the advancement of the cattle-driven agricultural frontier in Nicaragua. In his PhD thesis, he analysed the topic of Green Microfinance from a political ecology perspective and in the context of rural development. He conducted fieldwork in Nicaragua in order to analyse a particular green microfinance project which combined green credits with payments for ecosystem services and technical assistance. He is also a member of the action group ‘Green Inclusive and Climate Smart Finance’ of the European Microfinance Platform and has been involved in a consultancy project on Green Microfinance in Latin America for the Inter-American Development Bank



Florent Leo

Since 2017, Leo Florent is a PhD student at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris, France. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics (Université Paris Dauphine, 2013) and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Development (AgroParistech, 2015). From 2015 until today, he has spent three years in rural indigenous communities of the Atlantic Coast of Central America, where he learned to speak Miskitu. In Miskitu communities, and through a comparative study between Nicaragua and Honduras, he explores agrarian dynamics and social changes in the face of colonial pressure from the advancement of the agricultural frontier. His work deals with the themes of the advancement of the cattle frontier and its implications; the failure of agricultural development projects; the migrations of indigenous producers; traditional practices of cattle raising and pastoralism; the demarcation of communal lands and the indigenous communities’ processes in light of gaining autonomy.


Pierre Merlet




Pierre Merlet is a researcher at the Research and Development Institute NITLAPAN of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA). He is agro-economist, holds a Master in Globalization and Development and is currently finishing his PhD on the ecological agrarian question in the Nicaraguan agricultural frontier. His research agenda focuses on the relationship between agrarian and ecological issues in Nicaragua. Methodologically, he adopts a participatory action-research approach, working in close cooperation with local NGOs, and development actioners.  He has experience in the use of participatory methods, especially participatory mapping and role-playing games. He is also a member of the French Association AGTER (



Milagros Romero


Milagros Romero is a researcher at the Institute of Research and Development Nitlapan of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), Managua, Nicaragua and a PhD student at the Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp, Belgium. Her research focuses on analyzing the insertion of microfinance programs in rural territorial dynamics in Nicaragua, addressing its opportunities and constraints to contribute to sustainable development, in a setting with wide inequalities and accelerated environmental degradation. Her research is mainly based on the experiences of the development programs of Nitlapan and the financial institution Fondo de Desarrollo Local (FDL), and their Microfinance Plus model combining microcredit and technical assistance services.



Gert Van Hecken


Gert Van Hecken is a Lecturer in International Cooperation and Development at the Institute of Development Policy, University of Antwerp. His main expertise and research interests lie in the area of global and local environmental governance and development, and more specifically in the local socio-political dynamics triggered by climate change and development finance instruments, such as carbon and biodiversity markets and payments for ecosystem services. His research has been focused on Central and South America, and mainly builds on insights from political ecology, ecological economics, and critical geography. He has lived and worked for  more than a decade in Nicaragua, both as a researcher and as the country representative for a Belgian rural development NGO.