The chief executive of farming conglomerate ZZ2, Tommie van Zyl, will next month receive an honorary doctorate in agriculture from Stellenbosch University. He is considered a global agricultural thought leader whose work has impacted the sector’s future.
Van Zyl joins four other distinguished individuals who will receive honorary doctorates. The others are professors Ernest Aryeetey and Kenneth Shropshire, Zubeida Jaffer, and Strive Masiyiwa.
Aryeetey is the founding secretary-general of the African Research Universities Alliance. Jaffer is an award-winning journalist, author and activist. Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet Global Ltd. Shropshire is the founding chief executive of the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University.
In a media release, Stellenbosch University says Van Zyl has been at the helm of the ZZ2 farming enterprise and fresh-produce company for more than 20 years. The group comprises various independent companies managed under the ZZ2 umbrella, and is a megaproducer of tomatoes, avocados, blueberries, cherries, dates and nuts.
The company is a significant contributor to the socio-economic development of South Africa, creating multiple employment opportunities.
“The five recipients of honorary doctorates this year are exceptional individuals who have contributed significantly not only to their immediate communities, but also to the world at large,” says rector and vice-chancellor Prof. Wim de Villiers. “Their achievements speak for themselves, and the university is proud to be associated with them.”
According to De Villiers their steadfast commitment to changing people’s lives for the better resonates strongly with the university’s vision of not only promoting excellence, inclusion and innovation, but also advancing social engagement and reciprocal knowledge-sharing for the benefit of society.
In addition, honorary doctorates will be awarded to recipients who were announced previously. They are Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, the vice-chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity and former health minister of Rwanda, and Prof. Vikram Patel, the Pershing Square professor of global health at Harvard Medical School.