Tradition and change in The Gambia

Their cows are like their children, their pride. The more cows you own, the more respected you are. But Mbelly actively breaks with this tradition. Why?

The herds of the Fulani tribe, nomades from the Sahel Zone, are their property, their  guarantor that secures their everyday meals. You don´t sell your herd. The milk, with which the Fulani prepare almost every meal, guarantees the survival of the family. During the dry season it may be only a few drops. But you sell a cow only in worst cases – you also do not sell your child, won´t you?

To have less cows, but feed them well and healthy, seems strange in this tradition with desireable huge herds. Even though few well fed animals can give much more milk.

Mbelly shows how it can work. His family never had their own cows, he herded the animals of a rich owner. His salary was the meager milk. With a small business loan, he purchased Yumeh, a cross breed of a european cow and a local breed. And Yumeh gives 8 liters of milk daily. No comparison to our cows here in Germany, for example, but she gives eight times more milk than a local cow. Mbelly can sell 7 liters a day on the market, for about 6 months. For the first time he earns money – during half a year almost 4 Euro daily! 

Mbelly with his two bulls © Friedrich Keller-Bauer

Mbelly does it differently. His decision: Less animals, but keep them healthy and productive.

Mbelly hopes that after insemination, Yumeh gives birth to a female calf. He would then keep this one to later double the milk production. He will sell the young bull, the first calf of Yumeh, to purchase hay for the dry season. That´s why Yumeh also gives milk during the dry season; that´s why Mbelly also earns money during the dry season.

His decision: Less animals, but keep them healthy and productive. He breaks with a Fulani tradition. Not that he has less passion for cows, he cares for Yumeh like for his own child. But he only wants a number of cows he can adequately care for. And that they remain a productive business factor for him.

A decisive decision for change. From tradition towards modern spirit.

Like this example, our entrepreneurial projects are more than just business factor. They encourage new ideas, new reflection, a new approach. To preserve tradition, but dare to take new roads for the wellbeing of future generations.

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