Image of Giel Ton

Giel Ton

Research Fellow

Giel Ton is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and Director of the Centre for Development Impact. He specializes in the design of mixed-methods impact evaluations in agricultural value chains and private-sector development and applies Contribution Analysis as an overarching approach of theory-based evaluation. Contribution Analysis helps to identify the hot-spots for additional research needed to verify critical assumptions in the theory of change. He encourages the critical reflection on methods, anticipating the threats to validity to the type of inferences associated with a particular research design.  He is particularly interested in research designs that integrate methods for pattern detection in data sets (e.g. regressions, qualitative comparative analysis) and in-depth causal explanation (e.g. process tracing, realist evaluation).

Between 2005 and 2017, Giel worked for Wageningen Economic Research as a Senior Researcher on projects relating to business training, contract farming, export promotion and certification schemes. In 2017, he completed a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of contract farming for smallholder income for 3ie and the Campbell Collaboration, together with Ghent University. Giel coordinated the IFAD-funded ESFIM-programme, Empowering Smallholder Farmers in Markets implemented by Agrinatura (WUR, CIRAD and NRI). He also led the PRIME project, Pioneering Real-time Monitoring and Evaluation in small and medium enterprises to assess the impact of the Centre for the Promotion of Imports (CBI) and Netherlands Senior Experts (PUM).

Previously, he worked in the Netherlands on the illegal timber trade (2004) with Friends of the Earth. In Bolivia (1999-2004), he was policy advisor for the National Platform of Economic Farmer Organisations (CIOEC) and developed proposals for Bolivia’s poverty reduction programme, analysed the legal and administrative environment for farmer associations and cooperatives, and analysed Bolivia’s role in international trade and regional integration (MERCOSUR, CAN, WTO/Cairns Group). In the Netherlands (1997), he worked with the Dutch workers’ union on the Horticultural Restructuring Plan. In Nicaragua (1989-1996), he worked for VECO/Rikolto developing service facilities (e.g. Seed Exchange, Land Acquisition Fund, and Modular Post-Harvest Storage) for the local association of smallholder farmers in Condega-Estelí.



Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture

Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture (ACHA) is a seven-year, DFID-funded research programme that started in January 2020. The aim of the programme is to build evidence on: the forms, drivers, and experiences of children’s harmful work in African agriculture; ...


Centre for Development Impact

The Centre for Development Impact (CDI) contributes to learning and innovation in the field of impact evaluation. The Centre aims to improve the assessment of impact on the poor, particularly through the use of appropriate, mixed method, and robust evaluation designs.



Food certification schemes, impact and existential questions

Certification systems, like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and organic agriculture are crucial social capital in the food system. They need to show that they are credible. Therefore, a large part of published research on sustainability in food production concerns the impact of certification. The...

31 July 2019


Journal Article

Rethinking Technological Change in Smallholder Agriculture

The concept of technology adoption (along with its companions, diffusion and scaling) is commonly used to design development interventions, to frame impact evaluations and to inform decision-making about new investments in development-oriented agricultural research. However, adoption simplifies...

Image of Dominic Glover
Dominic Glover & 4 others

22 July 2019

Giel Ton’s recent work