Stellenbosch University (SU) has learnt with sadness of the passing of Prof Mohammad Karaan (52), a former Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences who also served as acting Vice-Rector: Community Interaction and Personnel at one point. At the time of his death on 13 January 2021, he was Professor in Agricultural Economics at SU, and President of the Maties Rugby Club.
“It's really shocking to hear of Professor Karaan's untimely death. He was a particularly valued and beloved colleague who made his mark – at SU, but also nationally and internationally," SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers said.
Prof Karaan helped write South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP) in the two terms that he served on the National Planning Commission (NPC).
Faculty of AgriSciences
“We will remember him as a remarkable leader, conciliator, true influencer in agricultural circles and a friend," Prof Danie Brink, current Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences, said.
“His death is a huge loss to the South African 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."
Prof Brink says the Faculty will remember Prof Karaan 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 South Africa."
During his career, Prof Karaan served as chairperson of, among others, the National Agricultural Marketing Council, the Ministerial Committee on Agricultural Marketing in South Africa, and the Ministerial Committee investigating the SA Wine Industry Trust. He was also as an advisor to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture.
“We will miss his leadership, patience and absolute amazing listening skills. He was a voice of reason who would allow us to think differently and move us forward during difficult conversations," Ms Ilhaam Groenewald, Chief Director: Maties Sport, said.
"He had big dreams for our Maties Rugby Club, especially the role of SU in developing the game through a major focus on coaching education and community development."
“It really is a big loss , and our hearts go out to his family in this very sad time," Prof Wim de Villiers said.
Prof Karaan is survived by his wife, Basheerah, and children, Zayne, Kamilah, Tauriq, Burhan and Adam.
More about Prof Karaan
Prof Karaan received all of his qualifications from Stellenbosch University: a BSc (Agric) degree in 1990, an MSc (Agric) in 1994 and a PhD (Agric) in 2006.
He started his career as an economist at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, before returning to Stellenbosch as head of research of the then Rural Foundation.
In 1996, he began lecturing in agricultural economics at SU. In 2008, he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences, and in 2013, he was appointed for a second term. In 2014/5, he served as acting Vice-Rector: Community Interaction and Personnel, as this Rectorate portfolio was known then.
Since 2010, he served two terms as member for agricultural affairs on the NPC. He was instrumental in writing a chapter in the NDP – Vision 2030 on shaping an integrated and inclusive rural economy for South Africa.
Before his passing, he was also a member of the presidential inter-ministerial commission on land reform, and his term as management committee member of the Bureau for Economic Research was extended.
Through the years he was honoured for his leadership role by, among others, Agbiz, Agri SA and Agricultural Writers SA.
Virtual memorial service:
A virtual memorial service will be held on Thursday, 28 January 2021 at 10:00. Click here to access the service.