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A Qualitative Content Analysis of Web Based Local Newspapers’ Framing of Channels for Food Security in Eastern Cape, South Africa

Nolukhanyo T. Metula*1, Olunyinka O. Osunkunle2

1 School of Communication, Faculty Humanities, North-West University, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom, South Africa 2 Department of Communication, Faculty Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Fort Hare South Africa

*Corresponding Author:
Nolukhanyo T. Metula School of Communication, Faculty Humanities, North-West University, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom, South AfricaE-mail: [email protected]

Received: 01-Aug-2022, Manuscript No. gmj-22-70963; Editor assigned: 03-Aug- 2022, PreQC No. gmj-22-70963 (PQ); Reviewed: 17-Aug-2022, QC No.Q-70963; Revised: 22-Aug-2022, Manuscript No. gmj-22-70963 (R); Published: 29-Aug-2022, DOI: 10.36648/1550-7521.20.54.319

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Food insecurity is a serious issue facing the world and is linked to poverty. An integratedprocessofmedia’sframingofthe foodsecurity issueneedstobeoutlined in order to evaluate its significance in media publications. This paper evaluates the manner in which online newspapers in Eastern-Cape frame food security. A qualitative content analysis was used to evaluate selected online newspapers’ content on food security related stories within the period of July-December 2017. A sample was drawn from four newspapers, namely Dispatch Live, Herald Live, Go and Express, and The Talk of the Town. The literature study was used to support the content analysed. Findingsindicate that local online newspapersframe Eastern Cape as an ‘untapped food basket’ and reveal possible channels to ensure Eastern Cape food security. These include natural food production, livestock production, smallholder farming, crop production land revitalization/redistribution, and land and labour policies.


Eastern cape; Food security channels; Framing; Qualitative content analysis; Online newspaper


A significant number of South African homes are food insecure, lacking access to stable and affordable food supply. Eastern Cape is one South African province considered to be food in-secure. It has many rural areas with large and arable agricultural land that can potentially provide food security and has more than 50% of people living in agricultural households. Despite the aforementioned, it remains one of the poorest provinces in South Africa, with most of the municipal districts suffering from massive poverty rates than the nationwide average. Poverty is high among agricultural households living in rural areas [1].

The mass media such as online newspapers play a significant role in informing and educating people on how to access affordable food. Using online media, the Eastern Cape community’s food security can be enhanced by framing potential food security channels such as farming. Akin to other technical information tools, online newspapers are superior influential sources of information in modern society thus, have a fitting role of educating communities with food security practices. Online newspaper commentary and opinion sections have become an essential part of the media landscape redefining the way citizens participate in news [2]. Moreover, online news creates synergies between the state and the people through its ability to stimulate participation as well as to offer interactivity and immediacy more than traditional news [3]. Against this backdrop, this paper sought to evaluate online Eastern Cape newspapers’ framing of potential food security channels in the province, with the aim of informing and educating people about potential practices to eradicate hunger.

Literature Review

Media food security coverage

Food security is recognized as an essential aspect of human security hence it is a global concern recognized by both national and international agencies. In this regard, the media has a responsibility to highlight food security as a significant and newsworthy matter to inform the public about its importance. Despite the rising concerns about food insecurity, it has been noted that media coverage of food security for disadvantaged groups is still very low [4] Since the causes, effects and possible solutions of food insecurity are a common media theme, online newspapers are at a vantage point to informing the public about these issues.

Réseau de Lutte la Faim (RELUFA), a national network for the non-profit organizations in Cameroon has developed common strategies to assess the systematic problems of hunger and poverty and to understand the coverage of food security issues in the media. The idea is to overcome the lack of representation of communities that are affected. That came after noticing that small scale farmers in rural areas do not gain legal recognition for their traditional land rights [5]. In assertion to that, Joubert (2013) stipulates that media must adhere to the Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 [first time in full]. In that, the media must uphold the democratic processes and hold the government to account. The South African media needs to broaden their understanding of the complexity of the food value chain and make efforts to ensure that the government is accountable in terms of the right of South African citizens to food.

Beddington (2011) reported that the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change recommended the ways in which food systems in the face of climate change can be transformed. Many countries including Brazil, Canada, France, Poland, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, the USA and Australia adopted this for research, leading to numerous objective articles with high-profile outlets including interviews with Commissioners. Those stories include “1) VOA News Africa which broadcast a story on Ensuring Food Security, Tackling Climate Change; 2) Radio Australia interviewed with Australian Commissioner about Urgent action needed on food security; 3) Guardian Global Development interviewed Sir John Beddington and he noted that Agriculture needs massive investment to avoid hunger; 4) Nature News highlighted that the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Durban must Clean up farming, and 5) The Earth Times called policymakers to ‘act now’ while in Australia, ‘The Age’ spoke to Dr Clark about putting food security on the menu”.

An integrated communication strategy to enhance food security

According to de Vreese (2005), the growing recognition of framing in media evaluation goes along with widespread inconsistency in media publication. Thus, an incorporated process version of framing needs to be mentioned and that includes media production, content material and media use perspective. Thus, this paper evaluates the manner in which Eastern Cape online newspapers frame possible food security channels. There are different food security frames that are identified by Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the post-2013 reform policies and are determining issues for the effective execution of the CAP. These frames include, “production frame; the environmental frame; the development frame; the free trade frame; the regional frame; and the food sovereignty frame”. These frames need to be deployed in communicating the CAP because they create a connection amongst CAP and food security.

Munyua (2000) argues that the government listens to the media more than anyone else. He further posits that online media support in development has been recognized because of inadequate interpersonal communication strategy, which involves the use of extension agents. Moreover, online media like any other medium should perform part of associating the information breach among rural farmers, urban consumers, market, policy and government [6,7] Mauser, et al (2015) also holds that a communication breakdown between the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) officials and farmers could cause a problem toward the achievement of food security, especially in farming. He further noted that the communication breakdown caused many farmers not to be aware of the projects initiated by CAADP such as climatesmart agriculture (CSA), conservation agriculture (CA) and how to utilize such opportunities. Therefore, he emphasized a need for CAADP to work with journalists in order to bring awareness to the farmers on how to champion CSA and CA with the aim to ensure food basket in the African continent.

Possible effects of framing food security issue

Framing carries significant implications and can be an utmost tool for judgement and decision-making [8]. McCombs and Ghanem (2001) also affirm that even though people may think they are rational thinkers that make decisions based on available facts, the truth is everyone has a swing that can kill his/her rational thinking - prejudices that could alter sensible thinking or even memories. Media frames have proven to be effective in altering rational thinking. Gonzalez (2005) also states that the framing effect depends on how a set of selection is described. He further noted that when people face problems that need a consequential decision the framing should be positive.

Framing helps people to make use of complex information and facts. According to Scheufele (1999), the way something is presented influences the choice of that person. Jones (1994) mentioned that framing communication texts enable individuals to discover, understand, recognise and label life experiences. He further explained how facets of framing enable people to identify specific problems, interpret the cause, evaluate the moral and recommend the possible solutions [9]. posit that framing tells people how to and why to think about an issue. Moreover, framing is effective when it beats into pre-existing opinions, methods and opinions and highlights certain components of a matter across different aspects. For purposes of obtaining food security strategies, this paper finds it vital to frame the issue of food security as a crucial social problem in order to gain possible solutions.

Research Area

The research domain is Eastern Cape Province in South Africa, largely categorized as agriculture based economy due to its vast agricultural lands that increase its potential to own the agricultural space in South Africa and offer models of food security. According to the General Household Survey (GHS 2014), after Limpopo, Eastern Cape is in second place regarding insufficient or severely insufficient access to food (29. 7%). While there has been continued emphasis on farming, less than a fifth of South African households (18. 3%) were involved in agricultural production, with 6% of homes in Eastern Cape having a desire to enlarge their existing sources of food. Most yield productions took place in backyard gardens, and the households involved in agricultural activities were mostly engaged in the production of food which consists of grains (51. 9%), fruit and vegetables (51. 5%), poultry (35. 1%) and livestock farming (45. 2%) (GHS 2014). Yet, only 13. 0% of the households involved in farming reported getting agricultural-related support from the government during the year preceding the survey, and slightly more than two per cent (2. 3%) of the households reportedly receiving teaching and preparation [10].

Relating to the Eastern Cape Province’s state of food insecurity and the ability of media in educating, informing and persuading the society, it is vital to look at the extent to which media including local online newspapers disseminate food security news to people, to promote food security actions. With that said, selected Eastern Cape local online newspapers have been evaluated in this paper.


This paper presents the framing of channels of Food Security in Eastern Cape, South Africa as framed in the Eastern Cape online local newspapers. The qualitative approach was used in qualitative content analysis as a data collection method and thematic analysis was employed as a data analysis method. This paper focused on local newspapers as tools for framing possible food channels for Food Security in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa by analysing selected online digital copies of local newspapers – The Dispatch Live, Herald Live, Go and Express, and The Talk of the Town. The online versions were easily accessible and produced similar content as print versions. Qualitative content analysis was used to empirically gather pertinent data for the study and to evaluate the content of the four selected local newspapers. Their content was analysed and investigated, using thoughts, insights and knowledge [11].

For this paper, the unit of analysis was the selected online newspapers published from July to December 2017. The Herald and Daily Dispatch newspapers published daily and The Talk of the Town and Go and Express published weekly every Thursdays.

A unit is considered as, “words, sentences, paragraphs” that are composed of features connected to each other through their content and context [12,13] The researcher selected articles whose context and content are related to channels of food security, thus story headlines and story contents were used to examine the extent of newspaper coverage on food security channels. Upon the selection of units to be analysed, seventeen (17) articles related to channels of food security were found. From those seventeen (17) selected stories, 30 units such as topics and paragraphs that speak directly to the channelling of Eastern Cape food security were analysed. Moreover, qualitative content analysis includes the process of aggregation where texts are abstracted and grouped together under higher order subheadings. Abstraction helps emphasize explanations and understandings on a logical level leading to the creation of “codes, categories and themes” [14], Stories that had the same meanings through content and context were grouped under one category that was given a theme; dominant themes were identified through manual coding. In that, themes such as farming, natural food production, livestock production, small-holder farming, and crop production and land revitalization/redistribution emerged. This approach helped to interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings deduced from the article’s content. Thematic analysis enabled extraction of emerging themes from newspaper extracts, analysing information gathered from selected online newspapers and integrated with the studies literature to identify the food security channels framed by Eastern Cape local newspapers.

Data Analysis

Dispatch Live’s framing of channels Food Security

The first local online newspaper analysed to examine whether its framing reveals possible Eastern Cape food security channels is Dispatch Live. The analysis is detailed below [15]

Natural food production: Dispatch Live framed that Eastern Cape Province holds great prospects for natural food as it produces citrus which significantly contributes to the province’s food security.

“Eastern Cape Province is the powerhouse of the South African citrus industry and accounts for 28% of citrus production in South Africa”. Also; “it is the most progressive and successful black citrus growers in the country that exports the over third of South Africa and home to 50% of South African lemons”

(Dispatch Live, 1 July 2017).

The article above frames Eastern Cape Province as the best South African citrus industry, thus being positioned at a vantage point for citrus production aimed at food security purposes that will grow the provincial economy.

Another Dispatch Live article, framed Eastern Cape as fortunate to have natural resources in South Africa, meaning with its natural resources like citrus production, access to food is possible. This was illustrated in another extract from the same article that,

“Eastern Cape has been blessed with a wealth of natural resources”

(Dispatch Live, 1 July 2017).

Akin to the statements above, this paper notes that while connecting natural food production and agriculture food production for purposes of food security, there is a substantial need for knowledge transfer to the communities and ICTs would be the most effective and efficient for this job. Thus, online newspapers are in a great position to transfer such important information to people through their websites and social media platforms with circulation and outreach to widely disperse heterogeneous audiences that include the youth.

Farming: Farming is regarded as a tool for boosting food production, food security and sustainable economic growth in the Eastern Cape Province. Most importantly, it increases the chances of food affordability.

“Being an agro-based province, we need to increase agricultural productivity to boost food production, achieve food security and sustainable economic development by increasing the availability of wholesome, locally grown food that everyone can afford…He said (the farmer) food prices are always increasing and it was a slight relief to know that they did not have to spend money on vegetables as well”

(Dispatch Live, 28 July 2017)

In addition, the article extract above framed vegetable growth as a healthy lifestyle and enables access to food and thus, reduces expenses of purchasing food.

Land revitalization: Land reinstatement issue have been framed as an issue that can contribute to Eastern Cape food security because land is a resource that is needed for food production. Land reinstatement mentioned in one of the Dispatch Live opinion piece headlines. The extract is below mentions that:

“Premier’s Perspective: Land revitalization initiatives stimulating province’s growth” (Dispatch Live, 1 July 2017)

“Food from our land connects individuals to family, family to community, community to culture, culture to agricultural and, ultimately food connects us to every other community of life including non-human ones in the soil, the and the air”

(Dispatch Live, 1 July 2017)

The above extracts imply the need for land revitalization for the purpose of increasing food security. The second extract emphasizes the importance of home-grown food by noting it’s vital role in enabling the bond within communities and in keeping an individual’s culture. This is simple because communal food production requires communities to gather together, apply their knowledge in which is mostly based on their cultural backgrounds.

The extract below explains why “revitalization” of land is important as source of food production:

“During the Apartheid era in South Africa the black taken over legally and for decades’ blacks stripped of their land. The blacks were restricted to 13% of the land. Nonetheless, the painful legacy has been fixed and it has been a central promise of the new South Africa. Therefore, dozens of laws and policies have been a promise to overhaul land reform and help to start the rural economy. In that, reform has been achieved by restitution to return confiscated land, redistribution to transfer ownership to a new class of farmers, and new laws to strengthen land titles for vulnerable groups such as farmworkers”

(Dispatch Live, 01 July 2017)

As mentioned in the preceding parts of this paper, farming is one of the available channels of food security in the Eastern Cape Province; hence the transfer of land to new class farmers is highlighted as objective to land revitalization, which concurrently leads to food production [16].

The extract below describes Eastern Cape province as carrier of land and water, which are needed resources for food production:

“Eastern Cape is the only province in the country with large tracts of arable land accompanied by rainfall in the east of the province”

(Dispatch Live, 1 July 2017)

Also, the extract below illustrates the usefulness in utilization arable land to produce food in the Eastern Cape Province:

“One household one hectare’ takes off hat the land reinstatement can powerfully change the state of poverty that is linked with foodinsecurity in the Eastern Cape Province this article reports that the Eastern Cape Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti handed over 904-hectare farm in 102 residents living near Komani as part of “one household, one hectare” and “one household, five sheep”

“According to the department’s Malerato Molokoane, it is part of a strategy to combat poverty by creating sustainable employment in rural households by rekindling a class of black smallholder farmers”

(Dispatch Live, 27 November 2017)

The extracts above additionally portray the extent to which land ownership and farming can be able to perform a vast position in household food production, which consequently leads to poverty reduction.

As a result, using vacant land plots for food production, such as gardening is encouraged and supported by communities. The extracts below explain that:

“BCM communication officer Bathandwa Diamond said the metro encourages and supports greening programmers-gardening and beautification only on vacant plots”

“Anyone can adopt a spot where there is uncontrollable illegal dumping activity in their neighborhood”

“Adopt-a-Spot” was started back in 2010 by citizens who had a passion for gardening and were interested in keeping their environment clean and green’’

(Dispatch Live, 23 November 2017)

“After growing up in an environment where gardening was the norm and where children used to steal vegetables from other people’s gardens, as a parent, I never wanted my children to be among that bunch, and that’s when I started my own vegetable garden. It grew from inside our yard to outside our yard onto anywhere where I could find land…The vegetable garden sustains my family and it also helps the community. Some people ask and some people buy, but I never turn anybody away”

(Dispatch Live, 23 November 2017)

In relation to that, the willingness of the community to produce their food, individually or by cooperatives is shown in the extract below:

“For years I have been cultivating this land and working on the garden, but recently when someone from the municipality brought me this sign, the community has been asking me for coopts”

(Dispatch Live, 23 November 2017)

Another view of land for food production mentioned in the article titled:

“Use land to produce food”

(Dispatch Live, 30 October 2017)

Another support for land revitalization for food production purposes is shown in the extract below:

“Those who benefited from land restitution had to ensure that the land was farmed productively…The failure rate of land restitution is massive. People have land but they are still poor as they are not producing food”

(Dispatch Live, 30 October 2017)

Herald Live’s Framing of Food Security

The second Eastern Cape online newspaper analysed to know whether its framing reveals the possible channels of food security in the Eastern Cape is Herald Live. The newspaper, for instance, discussed food security channels in the Eastern Cape Province as analysed below:

Natural food production: Tea Harvesting has been framed amongst the natural products that bring food security in parts of the Eastern Cape Province. The article extract titled;

“New hope for brews at Magwa Tea Estate”.

(Herald Live, 18 November 2017)

The article frames the Tea Estate as the hope for betterment in the rural livelihoods of Lusikisiki since some of them harvest these tea leaves for sustainable livelihood

“…the sound of snipping echoed as other women and men began harvesting the tea leaves on which their livelihood depends”

(Herald Live, 18 November 2017).

The article also enclosed the tea Estate as an answer to household level poverty and women's economic opportunity. In that, the article mentioned a 30-year-old woman who’s been depending only on these tea leaves harvesting to sustain herself and her three children for a very long time. Also, a 57-year-old man mentioned as another dependent in this Tea Estate delivers about 40kg of tea leaves each day. In that, he depends on the success of this Estate for his living and of his three children. Therefore, it is clearly mentioned in article that;

“Tea leaves harvesting helps in putting food on the table through job creation for both men and women”

(Herald Live, 18 November 2017).

Therefore, from the above extracts, Herald Live revealed the natural product which is tea harvesting that can possibly contribute to food security in the Eastern Cape Province as it helps job creation which is a great contributor on household income and food security.

Livestock Production: Livestock production is mentioned in the article headline below as an Eastern Cape agriculture initiative of generating food accessibility in the Eastern Cape Province because of its ability to grow the provincial economy and produce food.

“Agriculture will change province’s economy”

(Herald Live, 19th of September 2017)

Also, the extract below shows Eastern Cape as a breadbasket could possibly lead in South Africa as it is leading in livestock numbers in the whole country and that shows its strong ability to contribute in food production.

“The congress, which attracted delegates from all over Africa and even as far afield as the US, will center around innovations aimed at developing sustainable growth in the agriculture sector, more specifically livestock…With 3.2 million heads of cattle, 7.3 million sheep and 2.2 million goats, the Eastern Cape has the highest numbers of all nine provinces in these livestock”

(Herald Live, 19 September 2017)

Another emphasis in livestock production has been revealed in the article extract below. It has also been noted that, even though Eastern Cape has little or no natural resources like other provinces, it is rural and has large communal and wellestablished commercial farming sectors that are being served by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform. Therefore, the focus on agriculture has to be logical since it is not naturally determined. In that, the article portrayed support and wisdom as tools to increase the growth on agriculture such as livestock production since it depends on people’s insights.

“The Eastern Cape’s mohair industry produces more than 50% of the world’s mohair, while the local wool industry is responsible for 34% of South Africa’s total wool production….the meat industry, citrus and dairy, as well as ongoing developments in aquaculture and the oceans economy, as crucial contributors to the province’s economic growth…Agriculture is the most important industry each country has, and South Africa is no exception…Agriculture contributed to pulling our nation’s economy from a recession onto a positive trajectory during the last quarter”

(Herald Live, 19 September 2017)

Land and Labour policies: The Herald Live reveals that land and Labour policies are pertinent channels that need to be pushed in order for the farmers to focus on farming which will result in food security. That is highlighted in the extract below:

“Policy and legislation on issues like land and Labour are the prerogative of government at local, provincial and national level……Organizations like Agri EC attempt to influence decisionmaking on behalf of their members so that they can focus on farming”

(Herald Live, 4 August 2017).

Other article extracts highlighted that with the 50/50 change in land reform policies emerging farmers stand a chance to succeed the fight for hunger. The article extracts below put emphasis on the value of land and farming which are a result of food production.

“50/50 land reform initiative launched”

(Herald Live, 6th of October 2017)

“I no longer feel like just another farm worker. Since this project started it feels like I have become a successful citrus farmer. I and the other beneficiaries are no longer just workers, we are fully fledged farmers”

(Herald Live, 6 October 2017)

Also, the article extract below demonstrates that when everyone is given a chance to take full ownership of farming, success is bound to happen. Therefore, that means land reform or equal land ownership can help in resolving many social ills like food insecurity.

“Through the Farm Workers trust the farm workers now own 50% of the farm, while the management structure owns 40% and the IDC retains a 10% ownership. Nkwinti said this initiative serves as an example of what can be achieved when farm workers and commercial farmers join hands and develop together. This is a functioning business that has addressed not only the issue of land reform but a number of socio-economic concerns in the community it serves”

(Herald Live, 6 October 2017)

The Talk of the Town’s framing of Food Security

The Talk of the Town is the third local online newspaper analysed whether its framing reveals possible food security channels in the Eastern Cape. The newspaper, for instance, discussed food security channels in the Eastern Cape Province such as:

Farming: Food accessibility through farming showed in the article extract below:

“Farmers association celebrates centenary…Considering the timing of this decision, the farmers evidently had great faith in the future.1917 was in the middle of the First World War and not long after ‘Die Rebellie’ of 1914-1915,…the community that lived and farmed between the Fish River and Kenton-on-Sea were convinced that the formation of an agricultural association was the right way forward…Today this association still exists, concerns itself with the wellbeing and welfare of its members and the community and promotes the particular needs of the farmers in the area. It is a thriving community of diverse farmers with beef, dairy, freshwater fish, game, goats, hydroponics, nurseries, pineapples, sheep, tourism farms, vegetables, bamboo and other forms of farming found in the neighbourhood”

(The Talk of the Town, 11 November 2017)

The above extracts illustrate that farming increases hope for a better food secure future. This assumes that farming has the ability to feed and change people’s lives. It is, therefore, noted that farming is the hope for food security in the Eastern Cape Province and there is a need for associations like Eastern Border Farmer’s Association in every community, to empower the farmers to produce food and to ensure that their needs are met.

Small holder farming: Data collected in this study shows that smallholder farming has been put in the spotlight by The Talk of the Town online newspaper through its various articles. The article extracts below show the ability of smallholder farmers in producing food:

“Transforming the agricultural sector by unlocking the potential of small holder farmers”

(The Talk of the Town, 17 October 2017)

In addition to the above, another article extract emphasized the potential of smallholder farming sustainable food supply thereby making food available, accessible and affordable.

“In fact, according to South Africa’s development blueprint, the National Development Plan, agriculture is a significant sector in the South African economy and has the potential to create close to one million new jobs by 2030. Smallholder farmers are expected to play a significant role in this, both in terms of poverty alleviation and rural development for South Africa’s rural economies and moreover contribute to the sustainability of food supply. The key to this is to get smallholder farmers to become commercially viable by creating a return on investment which can be invested to grow their farming practices…The significance of the smallholder farmer cannot be underestimated and will become even more important in the future…Over the past few years, smallholder farmer’s contribution to food production, growth, stability and security has been recognised as significant. There are currently more than 500 million smallholder farms worldwide, most of which are still dependent on natural rainfall for crop irrigation… Our studies have shown that by focusing on the requirements and aspirations of farmers in the developing / emerging categories, we can have the most significant impact on farmers’ livelihoods, their further development to commercialisation and contribution to food production overall. This is because our work at the local level, in the field of education as well as inputs towards healthy crops can have rapid, demonstrable and scalable effects and can be used as a catalyst to encourage further development among these and other smallholder farmers, and have the effect of an increase in yields”

(The Talk of the Town, 17 October 2017)

Land ownership: Land ownership portrayed as a channel for farming in order to produce food thereby achieving food security in the Eastern Cape Province. That has been portrayed in the article extract:

“Eight KZN families delight at R10-million land claim success… With this land we are hoping to continue farming and maybe even build a community hall…The land was previously used for farming and grazing…While many of the families dispossessed of the land chose to take financial compensation (to the tune of about R25.3-million for the combined 114 households) ‚ the eight Dlamini’s took the land – which was worth just shy of R10.6- million…Funizwe said he hoped the land claim victory – which came after six years of waiting – would be an incentive for his nine children to head into agriculture…There are no jobs these days. There is no use studying to be a teacher or a nurse if you aren’t going to get work. Now that we have this farming land they can study something in agriculture and come back home and work…KZN head of Land Claims Commission‚ Advocate Bheki Mbili‚ said that although they are willing to help successful land claimants it was “everyone’s responsibility to make sure the land is sustained”

(The Talk of the Town, 30 September 2017)

The above article extracts illustrate the importance of land for farming in order to produce food, create jobs and business opportunities thereby achieving food security. Also, it shows the importance of empowering children to take part in agriculture in order to take care of their livelihoods including their household’s food security. Moreover, it shows the assistance that people need from their government, even though they own land. It also shows the responsibility that the government and people have in sustaining their land.

In addition to that, the need for land in order to produce food is also portrayed in the article extract below:

“Women across Africa call for greater land-ownership rights… Speaking on gender and women’s rights, at the conference, he pointed out that in communities where women have stronger land rights, there are lower levels of both hunger and of violence against women. Land is essential to securing shelter, for agriculture for food security, for mobilising investments and for sustainable management of resources. Including women in decision-making in land policy, and creating programmes that give women the necessary tools to secure land ownership, will address the challenges facing most African countries,”

(The Talk of the Town, 18 July 2017)

The article extract above highlights the importance for women to own land in Africa. This is one of the initiatives for equal land distribution in which it has been found as a problematic issue in many spheres of the continent. Moreover, the above extracts illustrate that with women owning land in their communities’ hunger and violence against women could be reduced.

Go and express’s framing of Food Security

The fourth online newspaper analysed to know whether its framing reveals the possible channels of food security in the Eastern Cape is Herald Live. The newspaper, for instance, discussed food security channels in the Eastern Cape Province as analysed below:

Crop-production: Crop production is amongst the channels of food security in the Eastern Cape Province that has been revealed by Go and Express news. In that, it has been revealed that:

“The company has outsourced Peter du Preez of What Education to train the 20 members, which is dominated by women, to manage and working on the project which will be growing crops to sell to the employees, the community and supplying food retailers in the long-term”

(Go and Express, 5 July 2017)

Land redistribution: Land redistribution issue has also been brought to attention as a factor that contributes to food security as it helps in agriculture farming.

“MA country leader Paolo Olivero, together with human resources executive Phillip Sapto launched an agricultural co-op using a portion of the company’s land next to their Berlin factory, where they have about 200 hectares of land on site”

(Go and Express, 5 July 2017)

Summary of Key Findings

Key findings of this paper reveal that Eastern Cape Province has available channels of food security as evidenced in the content of the selected Eastern Cape Online newspapers and the supporting literature. Also, this paper found that using media to disseminate news about available channels of food security could help in encouraging people to make use of those available channels to fight hunger [17, 18]. Therefore, online newspapers such as the selected Eastern Cape local web news can be used as a medium to enhance food security in the Eastern Cape Province.

According to these selected Eastern Cape online newspapers, there are numerous ways in which Eastern Cape communities can access food, and make food available for themselves as well as ways in which they can afford food. Those ways include:

The framing of farming as strong contributor to Eastern Cape food security

Farming in general is a strong contributor to food security of the Eastern Cape Province. The news shows that farmers play a key role and are in an advantageous position to contribute to food security. Also, it has been mentioned that the agriculture sector is uniquely placed to play a key societal role beyond food production. In that, their role is to also make a wonderful difference at the human level by taking positive action to change ideas around farmers, to champion agriculture and human dignity in the Eastern Cape Province. Vink (2012) also asserts that there are four main food security pillars that ought to be understood in relation to farming; food availability, access to food, food utilization and food stability [19, 20].

The framing of Eastern Cape’s natural food production as a weapon to fight against food insecurity

Natural food production is one of the channels of food security in the Eastern Cape Province. As the power house of citrus production in South Africa which accounts for 28% of the citrus fruit production, Eastern Cape stands a good chance to broaden business opportunities, grow its economy, and open up employment opportunities for all Eastern Cape citizens including the marginalised the rural areas. This way, the chain of hunger can be broken and food security achieved [21, 22].

Framing of small-holder farming as essential in fighting Eastern Cape food insecurity

The local newspapers framed the need to implement the transformation in the agriculture sector so as to create opportunities for all potential Eastern Cape smallholder farmers including those who live in disadvantaged rural communities as a priority. The initiative of the Eastern Border Farmer’s Association to advance the interests of farming in communities that are situated in or around Haw Park areas must be extended to the broader Eastern Cape area. There is a need to broaden that initiative to a larger Eastern Cape community thereby increasing involvement in smallholder farming. Also, the National Development Plan to create close to one million jobs in Agriculture by 2030 is pivotal. Therefore, the small holderfarmers stand a good chance to play a significant role in poverty alleviation, sustainable food supply and rural development. Ultimately, food security could be achieved [23].

In relation to the above, local media including local online news needs to sharpen and intensify its role in promoting natural food production and farming in this regard. When illustrating the Social Responsibility Theory of media, Ravi (2012) articulates that the media must recognize the expectations and needs of the society; these include the forum discussions, watchdog function as well as community leadership and empowerment. With that said, the Eastern Cape Society is facing severe hunger, thus the need for food security cannot be overemphasised. Eastern Cape local media, therefore, has a responsibility to recognize that need and put it at the forefront of the issues that the Eastern Cape community has to tackle by framing these issues in a way that will empower citizens to come up with possible solutions.

Framing of crop production as source of Eastern Cape food insecurity

The selected Eastern Cape online newspapers discovered that growing crops is a possible food security channel in the Eastern Cape. It has been mentioned as a source of food security as crop production enables harvesting for dietary sustenance as well as for sales, this create jobs and promotes food security. In the light of that, tea harvesting has been mentioned amongst crops that are available in some parts of the Eastern Cape Province including Lusikisiki. It is, therefore, worth mentioning that tea harvesting has been exemplified amongst the crops that can be used to fight household level poverty and open economic opportunities for everyone. Reference was made of a 30-year-old woman dependent tea leaf harvesting to sustain her and three children. Similarly, a 57-year-old man and his three children were noted as dependent on the Tea Estate where he delivers about 40kgs of tea leaves every day. These instances highlight not only the economic benefit of tea planting but also the massive role that crop production plays in putting food on the table and in job creation as ways of improving rural income for both men and women. Thus, crop production plays a significant role in the Eastern Cape Province food security as locals do not only access food, but competition enables access to food at affordable prices.

Framing of livestock production as essential in fighting Eastern Cape food insecurity

According to the selected online newspapers, this study found that livestock production is amongst forms of generating food accessibility in the Eastern Cape Province. It has been noted that Eastern Cape Province has great chances to lead the way as the breadbasket of South Africa through its massive 3.2 million heads of cattle, 7.3 million sheep and 2.2 million goats. On the other hand, the Eastern Cape mohair industry is producing 34% of South Africa’s total wool. Moreover, the meat industry and dairy are also central contributors of the province’s economy. In that, livestock production plays a massive role in local and global economic growth, this can be used to eradicate poverty that is linked to food security. Ehui, et al. (1998) hold that the growth in the consumption of milk and meat products in developing

Asia between 1990 and 1994 contributed to the high growth of income and rapid urbanization. Nonetheless, the decline of consumption in milk and meat products in Sub Saharan Africa declined income. Thus, the demand for livestock production in the developing regions such as South Africa is large.

Land revitalization as a source of food security

The selected local web news framed land as a resource that would contribute positively to Eastern Cape food security. That has been mention in discussed themes such as land revitalization and redistribution, land and labour policies. That has been revealed by the statement of the Eastern Cape Premier when he emphasized that land restoration initiatives are vital to stimulate the province’s growth. In addition to that, food that is produced from Eastern Cape land is outlined as a means to create the connection between individuals, families, communities, culture and agriculture. In that, the land that will provide food security from the household level, develop communities and keep people’s culture is mostly needed. Moreover, land reinstatement seems not to be just a food security issue but also a social and cultural concern.

In addition to the above, the selected local web news also framed land reinstatement as a development that will bring back the legacy of South African society because the land was painfully taken from the black community in the apartheid era, therefore, blacks are restricted to only 13% of the land which led to a crippling rural economy and the resultant food insecurity. Therefore, the reinstitution and redistribution of the land will help in rebuilding a new South Africa, help in kick-starting the rural economy, transfer ownership to new class farmers and create new laws that will strengthen land titles for vulnerable groups such as farm workers. The “one household, one hectare and one household, five sheep” initiative reported by the news has been invented to fight poverty and create sustainable employment in the Eastern Cape Rural Development and Land Reform also help in household level food security level. To this end, greening programs such as gardening of vacant plots are encouraged to change illegal dumping sites into farming.

It has also been noted that land could possibly contribute to food security if those who benefitted from land reinstitution can ensure that it is farmed productively and if those who benefited could choose to work land over money pay-out. However, many families who benefited from land reinstitution and redistribution chose financial compensation hence they are still poor. Moreover, the land claim could channel children to head agriculture as the province lack job creation. On the other hand, women across Africa’s call to greater land ownership rights in one of the initiatives for equal land distribution even though it is still a problematic issue in many spheres of the continent. However, in communities where women have stronger land rights, there are lower levels of hunger and violence against women. In that, the land equal distribution could solve many social problems like hunger.

Implications of the study

Media is the most effective and efficient vehicle to lead the role of informing the public about food insecurity and its possible solutions. Through framing, the media can frame food security issues into the public sphere so as to make it a dominant theme in the public domain. The power and influence of media has the ability to highlight and convince the public that agriculture and food security are significant and newsworthy matters. Food security is recognized as essential for human security hence it has been a global concern recognized by both national and international agencies. However, it has been noted that media coverage of food security generally and especially for disadvantaged groups is very low (Wolbring and Mackay 2014). Therefore, it is anticipated that the findings of this paper will play a key role in assisting the local newspapers including their online versions such as Dispatch Live, Herald Live, Go and Express, and The Talk of the Town Live, to assess whether their contents frame and educate people about possible food security channels insecured communities such as the Eastern Cape Province.

Concluding remarks

From the data collected and analysed, this paper concludes with evidence that online newspapers play a vital role in informing people about the possible channels to make food available, accessible and affordable in the Eastern Cape Province. The way online newspapers frame their stories, emphasises the different forms of food production which include small-holder farming, crop production, livestock production, natural food production and land revitalization. These are significant strategies to increase food production while alleviating food insecurity in the Province.


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