South Africa: Agricultural Transformation and Land Reform Have Lost a Policy Heavyweight


On 13 January 2021, we lost a very good friend, and the country lost one of its pre-eminent policy advisers in the fields of agricultural development and land reform, yet another victim of the Covid-19 scourge. Mohammad Karaan was one of those rare policy advisers who combined practical experience with academic excellence.

As a farmer (first in essential oils in the Caledon district, then in olives in Robertson); as a policy analyst (at the DBSA and at the Rural Foundation); as an administrator (as Chair of the National Agricultural Marketing Council and as Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences and Vice-Rector at Stellenbosch University); and as a businessperson (director of numerous public, private and state entities, executive manager of a range of medium to small enterprises).

Academics are not often able to combine practice with theory, and those who succeed in doing so don't always succeed in translating this into sound policy advice to the powers that be. Mohammad succeeded at both because he had vision, because he understood what had to be done and when it should be done in order to gain support for his ideas, and because he was a good listener -- all skills that were...

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