News seed prices exorbitant, The Herald

Date: January 1, 1970
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The government-approved 120 percent increase in the cost of seed will impact negatively on farmers and agricultural production, analysts and farmers predict.
The government-approved 120 percent increase in the cost of seed will impact negatively on farmers and agricultural production, analysts and farmers predict.

This article may be used to:
  • Illustrate how to mainstreaming gender in news.
  • Demonstrate how to develop news analysis stories.
  • Show pointers on sources and on the use of data.

Trainer’s notes:


The story is news analysis because it looks at how the new price of seeds will impact on farmers and agricultural production. The story indicates that the ‘news angle’, was the actual announcement of new controlled prices for seeds by the Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement.

This story is what is normally classified  as a “reaction” piece, because it gives reactions to an announcement from the various stakeholders affected, thereby providing some insight into the likely outcome.

However, it falls short of providing readers with an analysis of the impact of the price increase on various stakeholders and on the agricultural sector (this is explained in Step 2 and 3 below on mainstreaming gender and what’s missing).
Of the eight sources quoted in the story, six (6) are men and two (2) are women.

And, the sources are primarily officials, speaking on behalf of farmers: Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union President, Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union director, General Manager of the Zimbabwe Seed Trade Association, leader of the Indigenous Business Women’s Organisation. The occupation of the unidentified male source is unknown; Mr Kupara of Goromonzi’s occupation is not given; Mr Ndoro is a traditional healer; and Ms Kazembe is a newly resettled farmer.

Training tip: Women and men farmers affected by the price increase in a major agricultural input are the minority sources in this story. Discuss with trainees the reasons for this.

Positioning of sources
Point out to the trainees (if no one mentions it) that the two women sources are placed  near the end of the story, with the leader of the Indigenous Business Women’s voice at the very end. If a sub-editor needed space and decided to cut the story from the bottom, as is the rule, this woman’s voice would be the first to get chopped.

Pointer: The positioning of women’s voices in a story  the media defines as ‘hard news’ or a ‘mainstream issue’ is often a subtle message of the value placed on what women have to say.

What’s missing

  • The announcement comes in the wake of the ongoing controversial land reform programme, yet the story does not situate the seed price increase in this context. Therefore, relevant background on the land reform programme and the impact it has had on the farming sector is missing from the analysis.

  • Agriculture is the mainstay of Zimbabwe’s economy, yet no facts are given on the sector’s contribution to economic growth, and the impact of the land reform programme on this growth.


  • Who are the key players in the agricultural sector? Women play a key role in food security in Zimbabwe and this is a vital piece of the missing background information, and contributes to the importance of women’s voices in the story. Have women become key beneficiaries of the land reform programme in all farming sectors?
Key question for stronger analysis:
The story says who will benefit from the price increase, but it does not tell the reader clearly who will be the most adversely affected. It is not sufficient to say ‘farmers’ will be negatively affected, because not all farmers are equal.

A more substantive and informative analysis would tell the reader if women subsistence farmers, who grow food for the household, and small-scale farmers (women and men) are more likely to bear the brunt of the price increase and why.

Also in terms of language, the use of ‘farmers’ makes women invisible, because the general assumption is that all are men.

Use of data

The use of figures is a weak area for journalists in the region. Yet, this should be an important part of the newsgathering process to help readers understand the impact of an issue, event, and in this instance, a price increase in a key sector of the economy.
  • For example, how many farmers are there in the country who will be affected by the increase in seed price? How many of the farmers are commercial, small-scale, or subsistence?

  • Women are known to be key players in the agricultural sector? Where are they—how many are commercial , small-scale, or subsistence farmers?

Training exercises

Exercise one: Read the case study and discuss the following:

  1. Is this a news or news analysis story? Explain your choice?

  2. List the sources in the story? How many are women? How many are men?

  3. How many officials are sources? How many of the sources are farmers?
Exercise two: Define the following terms:
Gender mainstreaming
  1. Communicating gender in the media

  2. A gender-specific story

  3. Adding a gender perspective to a story



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