If you’re looking to start snail farming business in Nigeria, then you’re on the right page. Here, you’ll learn the basics of the snail farming business.
“Snails? Snail farming? How are we going to live with snails all over our backyard?,” exclaimed Halimat as her husband explained that he wanted to venture into snail farming.
Just the thought of snails makes some people shudder and feel nausea. To some others, the thought alone is enough to make them drool over the imaginary pot of soup they could make from it but very little people think of it as a business venture.
This article intends to be an eye opener to you in that regard so that the next time you see or hear of snails, you will begin to see the business opportunities that lies therein.
Snail farming, or heliculture as it is popularly called, is the domestication of snails. In simpler terms, helicuture is the rearing of snails at home-like we do chicken or rabbits- for food and profit. This farming of snails even though not as popular as chicken and fish farming is almost as lucrative, if not more lucrative since snails are heavily consumed both locally and internationally.
In contrast to the high cost involved in starting a fish farm or keeping poultry, snail farming is less capital demanding thus it may be a very good first venture for the novice entrepreneur.
Why snail farming is a lucrative business
As more people suffer from lifestyle diseases and disorders like diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases, the general populace is becoming concerned about the food they eat. People are generally desisting from high cholesterol meats and are finding alternatives in sea foods and snails.
According to an article by punch newspaper published on the 19th of March 2014, “Snail is still in short supply in Nigeria. Preliminary market analysis suggests that an additional 25,000 tons, or a 100 per cent increase, can easily be absorbed”.
That is more than enough evidence to show that there is a market for snail farmers in Nigeria.
Internationally, the snail market is very hard to approximate but an estimate of about 450,000-500,000 tons of snail is being produced annually and are all absorbed in various markets across Europe with the largest markets in France, Italy and Spain.
So, the demand for snail is here to stay and the market is large enough to offer budding entrepreneurs a chance!
What do you need to start snail farming in Nigeria
Now that we have seen that there is an abundance of demand for snails in Nigeria and abroad, you may be curious as to what it takes to start snail farming.
- After acquiring your land/space for your farm, you also have to know where to get your snails from. A farm isn’t a snail farm without the snails. Experts recommend the ‘highly prolific ACHATINA ACHATINA species of snails’ for commercial production. You may source for your snails from the wild or by purchasing the eggs or young ones.
- As the name suggests, snail farming is a form of farming. Therefore, it is paramount to find land space for your farm. It is important to note here that snails are reared only on sand. They can’t be reared on concrete or wood. The best type of sand is those that have low water retaining properties. The sand should be moist but not wet.
- Since snails are living-breathing things, they require food to stay alive. Normally, a snail will feed on anything that is bio-degradable. This means snails will eat vegetables, fruits, leaves and even tubers. It is highly recommended that you provide your snail with calcium-rich foods that will enable them to produce shells.
Other requirements which may not be as fundamental as the ones listed above include:
- Knowledge: investing for a more in-depth knowledge of snails and their farming may benefit you. You will be prepared to foresee and comprehend problems that may arise and other intricacies of rearing snails for profits.
- Time and Attention: though snails are more sickness-proof than poultry, you time and attention is still needed for observing the farm for pests and noticing the snail movement so they don’t crawl out of the boundary of your farm
- Market: before you begin your snail farm, you may need to take some time to investigate the market for snails in your state. If you live in states where snails are not popular then you will want to liaise with restaurants and market women in a different state where snails are enjoyed.
How much do you need to start a snail farm?
Snail farming is not as capital intensive as other forms of farming. Due to the ‘crawling nature’ of snails, a snail farm needs not to be elaborate, hence; it can be built from material you have around your house.
It is noteworthy that the capital you will need to begin the venture will be determined mostly by the scale at which you want to operate; whether a small scale, medium scale or large scale farm. Nevertheless, some noteworthy questions are:
- Do have the materials needed to build the farm or am I going to buy them
- Do I have a land on which I will operate my snail farm?
- What will it cost me to stock my farm?
- How much will it cost me to run the farm till the snails are ready for harvesting?
That being said, with a hundred thousand naira (N100,000) only, you can begin a medium scale snail farm that could gross in five times your initial investment.
Risks and threats
Snails are survivors. They survive in the wild so they are most likely going to survive in the farm. However, snails are threatened by ants, carnivorous birds and termites.
Snails are also affected by dry and acidic surfaces. It is imperative therefore to keep the soil moist and alkaline at all times.
Snail farms are always being attacked by petty thieves especially when the snails are almost ready for harvests. So be on the look-out!
Other interesting facts
- Snails are hermaprodites. Each snail can and will reproduce on its own without mating.
- Snail farming is really lucrative as a single snail can produce up to 300 eggs three times a year
- If you are serious about going into snail farming, the CBN agricultural development efforts can help you afford capital easily
If I had a single sentence to summarize this post I’ll say: snail farming is still young in Nigeria and it is waiting for young entrepreneurial minds to take it to another level. What are you waiting for?
Want to know more? Leave your questions in the comment and I will get back to you with some answers.