"The dramatic growth in big land deals over the past decade is a phenomenon not specific to Southern Africa. It is part of what has been termed a ‘global land rush’ following food price spikes, financial crisis and fuel price volatility (and growing interest in biofuels) in the period 2007-2008. Both domestic and foreign investors are increasingly keen to move into farming and other commercial ventures in rural areas. This has been presented as welcome development but also criticised as constituting a ‘land grab’. Our case studies provide some empirical basis to debate these points of view."