n South African Journal of Agricultural Extension - Reducing pitfalls in agricultural development projects : a case for the Participatory Project Management Cycle (PPMC)

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0301-603X
  • E-ISSN: 2413-3221


The management of agricultural development projects is a factor that can contribute to their success or failure. In worst-case scenarios poorly managed projects seem to continue with a life of their own and without clear direction. In the cycle of agricultural development projects, including programmed extension, major pitfalls can occur if the necessary phases are ignored or incorrectly implemented. The argument is that these can be avoided if the Participatory Project Management Cycle (PPMC) is followed. While there are a number of methods available for trained agricultural extensionists these are not readily available for agricultural researchers who do not undergo such training but are often expected to carry out technology transfer. This is often done without the collaboration of trained extensionists. Subsequently, a method had to be developed using the basic project management knowledge that some agricultural researchers had obtained through experience and short courses. Two case studies are used to highlight what happens when the PPMC is followed or not. Case Study One is a project that was implemented to completion without following the Participatory Project Management Cycle. For the purpose of this study the PPMC was used during the ex-post evaluation to identify where and why major pitfalls occurred. Case Study Two concerns a project that was initiated using the PPMC but was temporarily suspended at the beginning of phase four of the cycle. This decision was based on the information obtained while following the PPMC and avoided the unnecessary use of scarce resources.

The study concludes that when the PPMC is not used, the following concerns are raised:
  1. Are the issues, requirements and concerns used to conceptualise projects those of the farmers or those of other stakeholders?
  2. Do service providers and stakeholders understand the PPMC and have the necessary skills and capacity to implement participatory agricultural development projects?
  3. Are resources used efficiently if the PPMC is not followed?

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