Stories by Steve Agbota [email protected] 08033302331
Commercial snail farming has become an alternative for livestock farmers as it that offers them new business opportunities. Snail farming is thriving at the moment in Africa because it was neglected and overlooked.
Snail breeding can yield quick money if the farmer understands the nitty-gritty of the modern techniques and type of species that are in high demand in Europe, USA and other developed countries.
However, the rising consciousness of the elite to choose healthy diets has made snails a popular feature of expensive meals in hotels, bars, restaurants and shopping malls.
In terms of cost and time, snail farming is a low risk business and profitable unlike many other livestock businesses, snail farming requires very little startup and operating costs. Someone can start with N60, 000 or N100, 000 depending on the size of your farm.
Snails are a huge part of the diet in many parts of Africa and around the world, although they are not always affordable and available all year round. 100,000 snails after a year or two sold at the rate of N50 each (highly reduced price) will give you about N5 million.
Their high protein, low fat and cholesterol content make them a nutritional favourite. Snails contain almost all the amino acids needed by the body and most of its by-products are used for cosmetics and medicines.
Most of the snails supplied to the Nigerian market are picked from bushes and forests during the rainy season, which is between April and September.
One reason why potential investors or farmers should consider snail business is that during the dry season, snail becomes increasingly scarce and the market is starved of constant supply until the next wet season. This makes the supply of snails very seasonal in many parts of world where they serve as food.
As a result, snails can fetch much higher prices during the dry season, which is December to March when supply often does not keep up with demand. This is why you need to cultivate snail at your backyard or compound for profit making.
Interestingly, there is huge demand for giant African snail in America, Europe and other countries. Most people in abroad prefer to keep snail as pets due to their sheer size and the export demand is rising even when the farmers are yet to satisfy local demand.
Speaking with Daily Sun, a farmer and a consultant with Monrole Global, Mr. Akin Famuyiwa said there are three species of snail, which are Achatina Fulica, Achatina Achatina and Archachatina Marginata. He said among these three species, Achatina Achatina is the most desirable for farmers because it grows so big to become the biggest snail species in the world. Achatina Achaina has its origin from Nigeria, Liberia, and then Ghana.
He explained: “Achatina-Achatina is very good for commercial purposes, because of its profitability. This is because of the volume of eggs it lays at once. Each Achatina Achatina lays 300 to 500 eggs at a time in clutches, three times a year. Therefore, if you start a farm with about 1000 snails, in one year you would be getting about 1.5 million snails going by the number of eggs they produces.”
Having decided on the specie, he said potential farmers the flowing steps to setup their snail farm in a small-scale level and starts rearing towards harvest.
Snail farming environment: Snails are easily dehydrated, and wind increase the rate of moisture loose in snail which in turn, leads to the dryness of the animal. To prevent snails from losing water so quickly, your snaileries (the snail house) must be located in an environment that is protected from wind.
A low plain, downhill site surrounded with enough trees is perfect for snail farming. You may plant plantains and bananas around your snail farm to prevent the impact of wind.
The snail house (Snailery): Snaileries can vary from a patch of fence-protected ground, sheltered from the wind to a covered box if you are breeding in small scale. For larger population of snails, you can dig a trench or make a concrete pen with soil deep of about 10 inches, and cover it with screen or wire all around to prevent the snails from escaping.
Snail foods and feeding: Snails especially Achatina mainly feeds on green leaves and fruits though they can utilize other ranges of foods. Feed your snails’ on leaves, fruits, or even formula from the feed store. Aside from food to grow tissues, snails need calcium to grow shells. Leaves: Cocoyam leaves, pawpaw leaves, okra leaves, cassava leaves, eggplant leaves, cabbage and lettuce leave.
Harvesting: It is not economically wise to harvest your snails before it’s maturity; it has to be matured before harvesting. To know if your snails are already matured enough, check the brim of the shell. If it is matured enough, the brim should be thicker and harder than other parts of the shell.