Land reform & farming policy expert Prof Mohammad Karaan dies

Highly respected agricultural expert Prof Mohammad Karaan has succumbed to symptoms of Covid-19.
Highly respected agricultural expert Prof Mohammad Karaan has succumbed to symptoms of Covid-19.
Image: MEC Ivan Meyer via Twitter

Tributes are being shared after the death of agricultural policy influencer Prof Mohammad Karaan on Wednesday.

Western Cape agriculture minister Ivan Meyer said he had succumbed to symptoms of Covid-19.

He described Karaan as an academic and thought leader on agriculture.

“His death is a massive loss for the academic and agricultural community in SA.

“He was a bridge builder between government and the agriculture sector and brought people together. He was a great facilitator of dialogue and reason in the political economy of SA. He understood the impact of policy uncertainty on the agricultural sector and offered pragmatic solutions. Agriculture was his passion and his legacy will continue to inspire us,” said Meyer.

Karaan was a professor in agricultural economics at Stellenbosch University (SU), and president of Maties Rugby, at the time of his death. He helped write SA's National Development Plan (NDP) in the two terms that he served on the National Planning Commission.

“We will remember him as a remarkable leader, conciliator, true influencer in agricultural circles and a friend,” said Prof Danie Brink, dean of the faculty of agrisciences at SU.

“His death is a huge loss to the SA agricultural sector at large, and in particular also to our faculty. He was a special man who had the ability to bring people from different spheres together. His heart was in agriculture, and he believed in strengthening it.”

The Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) said Karaan was a pioneer in the agricultural industry on academic, political and economic fronts.

“He was the voice of reason in a stressful era during which decisions regarding the how, the what and the where of land reform had to be made. He served the agricultural industry in a distinguished manner at the National Planning Commission and was the architect of Chapter 6 of the National Development Plan (the so-called "Karaan plan"). It is and still remains the most successful model for land reform in SA and was also applied with great success elsewhere in Africa.

“Prof Karaan himself was an active farmer and thoroughly understood both the theoretical and practical sides of agriculture. He was loved among farmers and his death leaves an unfillable void,” said Saai.

Brink said the faculty, at which Karaan was a former dean, will remember him for his empathy towards others, the way in which he recognised and supported colleagues and others, for his insight and ability to unravel complex issues.

“He has had a lasting impact on the vision of the faculty, the university, on agriculture and SA.”

During his career, Prof Karaan served as chairperson of, among others, the National Agricultural Marketing Council, the ministerial committee on agricultural marketing in SA, and the ministerial committee investigating the SA Wine Industry Trust. He was also an adviser to the parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture.

Karaan is survived by his wife Basheerah, and children Zayne, Kamilah, Tauriq, Burhan and Adam.


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