This paper documents a participatory approach for supporting black South Africans in developing knowledge and skills to use land, acquired under the land reform scheme, more effectively. This approach enables land reform groups to work jointly through a sequence of steps in order to develop and implement a land management plan.The participatory planning method can be summarised into four main stages. First, the land reform group seeks to understand how the agricultural sector operates in its area, and identifies those agencies that provide technical and managerial support. Next, practical research is undertaken to provide information on the livelihoods of the group members, the various objectives of the group and the agricultural potential of the land. A committee develops a realistic management plan to pursue the objectives, taking account of the resource constraints. Finally, once the group as a whole has taken collective ownership of the plan, implementation starts, and the necessary technical and financial inputs must be secured. Finally, the outcomes of the plan will be monitored and evaluated against indicators generated and agreed by the group. The paper notes, however, that there is a lack of people with the required facilitation skills, which must be addressed.Two key lessons learned from this experience are:for the land reform programme to succeed, it is crucial that beneficiaries participate in preparing a realistic plan for their farms, of which the land reform group as a whole takes ownershipenough time must be allowed for the participatory planning process, with the time required in each case varying depending on the complexity of the group, the size of the farm and the range of group members’ objectives
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