Transnational Land Deals for Agriculture in the Global South: Analytical Report based on the Land Matrix Database
April, 2012. Ward Anseeuw, Mathieu Boche, Thomas Breu, Markus Giger, Jann Lay, Peter Messerli and Kerstin Nolte. CDE/CIRAD/GIGA. Bern/Montpellier/Hamburg. 50 pages. ISBN: 978-92-95093-71-3
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. While some have seen a major threat to the rights and livelihoods of the rural poor in the Global South, others have pointed to potential opportunities arising from new investment in a long-neglected sector. The real extent and the nature of this new phenomenon have been hard to assess, particularly because of the lack of reliable data.
The Land Matrix project was set up to respond to this gap. This report draws on the Land Matrix database to analyze and better understand the phenomenon of large-scale agricultural land deals. It focuses on:
- land acquisitions or investments (“deals”) targeting the Global South and Eastern Europe, including only low and middle income countries;
- transnational deals, excluding deals where only domestic actors are involved; and
- deals where the envisioned land use is agricultural.
The Land Matrix figures confirm that there is a worldwide rush for land, although it has lost some of its initial pace. Many deals have been more than just speculation and strategic positioning. A large number of contracts have been signed and followed through by the implementation and start of operation of projects.