Agriculture, land reform & rural development minister Thoko Didiza. Picture: GCIS/KOPANO TLAPE
Agriculture, land reform & rural development minister Thoko Didiza. Picture: GCIS/KOPANO TLAPE

The death of Prof Mohammad Karaan, a former dean of the faculty of agrisciences at Stellenbosch University and an agriculture policy doyen, is a massive loss for SA at a time when the country needs development thinkers the most to kick-start the economy, says agriculture minister Thoko Didiza.

Karaan was a leading figure in SA’s agriculture sector and contributed to state policy decisions and academia. He was part of the National Planning Commission, chair of the National Agricultural Marketing Council, a board member at Land Bank and the Agricultural Research Council, and, most recently, a member of the presidential advisory panel on land reform and agriculture.

“Prof Karaan’s passing is a massive loss for the country, at a time when we need leading development thinkers and practitioners like him the most, as the country begins to implement the economic recovery plan,” Didiza said.

Chapter six of the National Development Plan — the government’s blueprint for eliminating poverty and reducing inequality — was largely drawn from Karaan’s vision for agricultural and rural development, which emphasised a need for public-private partnership approaches in agricultural development.

“We should honour his legacy by continuing this approach as part of the broader government agricultural development approach,”  Didiza said. “We send our sympathies and prayers to Prof Karaan’s family at this challenging time. The agricultural community will miss Prof Karaan’s insights and wisdom.”

Western Cape agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer said Karaan’s death is a massive loss for the academic and agricultural community.

“We remember professor Karaan for his contribution to the National Planning Commission and the Land Reform Advisory Panel … He also contributed to developing the Western Cape department of agriculture’s approach to agriprocessing, the design of halaal products, and the training required for farmers to access the halaal markets.

“Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the late Professor Mohammad Karaan,” Meyer said.

Karaan died on Wednesday from a Covid-19 related illness

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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