The Land Matrix, Phase I

  • The Land Matrix Initiative (LMI) is a global and independent initiative that monitors competition over land use in the Global South. Its goal is to facilitate an open development community of citizens, researchers, policy-makers, and technology specialists to promote transparency and accountability in decisions over land and large-scale land-based investment. The GIGA is a key partner in this initiative and hosts the Land Matrix Database. The first phase of the Land Matrix aimed at maintaining and improving the database. A focus was on the dynamics and impacts of large-scale land acquisitions.
    BMZ, 2013-2014

    Research Questions

    * What is the global scale of large-scale land acquisitions?* What determines large-scale land acquisitions?* What are the impacts of large-scale land acquisitions?

    Contribution to International Research

    The project addresses the serious lack of data on global land investments by providing the currently most comprehensive online database on such deals (the ["Land Matrix Global Observatory"]( This information is demanded by a variety of actors: researchers, international and development organizations, NGOs, the media, and policymakers in host countries of such land deals. The research conducted within this project will directly feed into the Land Matrix database. It will improve the data quality and availability of this internationally acclaimed database on land acquisitions.

    Research Design and Methods

    The Land Matrix database is a constantly updated data set that includes deals made for agricultural production (for food or agrofuel production), timber extraction, carbon-trading, mineral extraction, conservation and tourism. Deals included in the database must meet the following criteria:* They entail a transfer of rights to use, control or own land through sale, lease or concession.* They were signed sometime since 2000, when the annualized value of the FAO real food price index was at its lowest level.* They cover an area of 200 hectares or more.* They entail the conversion of land from local community use or from important ecosystem-service provision to commercial production.Records are derived from a variety of sources: media reports; reports by international and local organisations, NGOs, and field-based research projects; company websites; and government records. Sources are partly accessed through two active internet portals dealing with land transactions: []( and []( Company websites and governmentrecords are also used where these are available. Moreover, the "crowdsourcing" function plays an increasingly important role.

    The project focuses on the impacts of LSLAs, with both a qualitative and a quantitative component. Certain impact dimensions – for example, investment-related benefits and compensations – will be examined on a case-study basis using qualitative approaches. The proposed studies will build on earlier fieldwork. Other impact dimensions – for example, employment and productivity – can be better analysed using quantitative techniques. For these analyses, we will select case study countries. The selection will be informed by the Land Matrix database and will depend on the availability of spatial information on land deals in combination with socio-economic baseline data. Methodologically, we will rely on standard impact evaluation techniques – in particular, differences-in-differences estimates on a small geographical scale (community, village).

    Preliminary Findings

    An improved version of the online Land Matrix database was re-launched in June 2013. It is currently the largest data set of its kind and generates wide public interest. The Land Matrix data shows that there is indeed a global trend toward land acquisitions, and that a large number of these projects are likely to materialise. However, implementation on the ground is slow and a huge number of projects fail. Accordingto the Land Matrix information, Africa is the most targeted continent and most target countries are characterised by weak land governance and high incidences of hunger. Furthermore, targeted areas are easily accessible, provide high yield gaps, and have considerable population densities. Most investorscome from comparativelywealthy countries, and countries that are net food importers. All in all, the data suggests that in a large number of cases there are trade-offs environmental and social goals.

    Journal of Modern African Studies | 2015

    Interplay of Land Governance and Large-Scale Agricultural Investment: Evidence from Ghana and Kenya

    Susanne Johanna Väth


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