More wives mean more children and more workers

This year, Ladji asks the village chief, his uncle, for more land. There is plenty of land, enough for anyone who has family manpower to work the fields. Good production depends on the strength of the fertilizer and the amount of manpower. More wives mean more children and more workers.

If the head of the family knows how to motivate all his kin, he can prosper. Speaking of his fields and wealth, Ladji says, “Some people have more, some have less.” In fact, most have less. Drained by the Bani, a tributary of the river Niger, Ladji’s region is one of Mali’s most productive.

The 100 families of the village are members of the co-operative run by the government owned CMDT. Today, the heads of all the households meet to discuss their needs for fertilizer, cotton seeds and animals to pull the ploughs and hoes. Most importantly, they want to know how much they will have to pay for these services and how much the company will pay for their harvest. The company sets the prices and quotas. Cotton income contributes to Ladji’s family prosperity and perhaps also to his continuous smile. But, as he does not know when the years of drought will come, he does not really know if the cotton price on the world markets will be in his favor.

The income of this special field is used for their community activities

The young men work together in a special field assigned to them. The income of this special field is used for their community activities such as hiring the Griot for dances. They proudly say that their work bought the television, video and generator used by everyone to see movies and the much appreciated musical shows.

60 head of beef
50 sheep
20 goats
2 donkeys
3 ducks and ducklings
Many chickens

Ladji never wants to be caught in a debtor’s situation again

For most people in Mali, the pre-harvest time is one of worry, as there is little or nothing left to eat from the last season. Food prices are at their highest and many families must borrow against the next harvest from peasants who have surpluses. Ladji never wants to be caught in a debtor’s situation again. He has seen terrible drought and has lived through famine, so he has learned to make provision for these difficult situations. Standing in the courtyard are five big granaries filled with sorghum and millet to carry his family through difficult times if the wet season turns dry. He can sit smiling serenely. This year, he is well off.

The cash earned from selling cotton and rice buys salt, sugar, dry fish, clothing, medication, motorcycles, bicycles, petrol, paraffin, lamp-wicks and glass lampshades, and even cattle. It also provides dowry money for prospective brides.


The young
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