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Transnational Land Deals for Agriculture in the Global South: Analytical Report based on the Land Matrix Database

This report draws on the Land Matrix database to analyze and better understand transnational large-scale agricultural land deals. It provides readers with a global overview of the transnational ‘land grabbing’ phenomenon.

The report focuses on:
(a) land acquisitions or investments (“deals”) targeting the Global South and Eastern Europe, including only low and middle income countries;

(b) transnational deals, excluding deals where only domestic actors are involved; and

(c) deals where the envisioned land use is agricultural.


The 2007/2008 spike in the price of agricultural commodities was accompanied by a spike in media reports of huge transnational farmland acquisitions. Commentators were soon referring to “land grabbing”, or to a new “global land rush.” However, others have argued that the boom is really only a bubble which is driven by speculation and is thus not likely to materialize in real projects.

This report uses data from the Land Matrix database to analyze and better understand the phenomenon of large-scale agricultural land deals. The analysis of these data  provides strong evidence that there is a worldwide rush for land, although land acquisition  has slowed from its initial fast pace.

This study has five main parts. The first gives a global overview and emphasizes that the existence of a spike in large-scale land acquisitions is indisputable. The second details the target countries and regions. It looks at the determinants of investment decisions and inquires whether investors actually target “marginal” land, as is frequently claimed by governments and investors involved in land deals. Thirdly, this study examines the investors themselves – their interests, characteristics and the countries they come from. The fourth part focuses on learning more about the drivers of the global increase in demand for land. Finally, the processes of large-scale land acquisitions are examined, including an assessment of compensation and potential benefits.

Uploaded on: Sep 19, 2016
Last Updated: Sep 22, 2016
Year Published: 2012

Resource Tags

Resource Type: Practitioner Resources Issues: Environmental Justice Tool Type: Reports / Research Method: Research Languages: English Regions: > Global