One of the most lucrative agriculture-based businesses in Nigeria is snail farming. Interestingly, very few people understand the process of starting and maintaining a snail farm in Nigeria.
Many people think that the only way to find and sell snails is by going to the bush during the rainy season to pick these animals. This is not true and snail farming can be an excellent way of meat the demand for snail meat in the country
Snail Farming in Nigeria: How to Start in 2019
In this post, we take a look at how to start snail farming in Nigeria. But first, let’s take a look at the benefits of snail.
- Snail meat is very nutritious. It contains choline (an important water-soluble vitamin). Choline is an essential vitamin that builds and maintains healthy cell membranes. It also protects the liver from fat accumulation by transporting triglycerides. The vitamin can also help children especially infant to boost their brain growth.
- The meat also contains high levels of magnesium; which is needed in enzymatic reactions in the body. It is also involved in the production of fats, proteins and nucleic acids, neural activity, muscle contraction and relaxation, cardiac activity and bone metabolism.
- The snail meat is high in selenium which are important minerals and nutrients that fights diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It can be found in every cell of the body including cells in the kidney, liver, spleen, pancreas and testes. It is also a vital antioxidant that helps to prevent the aging and hardening of tissues through oxidation.
- Snail contains omega-3 fatty acids which help to prevent diseases related to the heart including hypertension because omega 3 can increase the elasticity of the make arterial organ. Additionally, Omega 3 is an important antioxidant that helps to improve eye health. Omega-3 is also an important element for optimal brain health because of its ability to promote the growth of cell membranes in the neurological system in the brain. It can also improve memory in children especially for those who often forgetful by boosting the physical and mental development of children that consume it.
- Snail meat also contains Vitamin A which is an excellent vitamin for optimal eye health
- Another interesting benefit of snail is its use in stopping excessive bleeding from open wounds. The animal secretes a blue liquid that can be used for this action.
Apart from the snail meat, there are other parts of the snail that can also be used to generate revenue. These include:
The snail shell is the outer and harder part of the snail which the snail uses to ward off predators or danger. The shell can be used in traditional medicine. It is also used as a part of ornament, beads or local tools.
Snail eggs or snail caviar
These are the reproduced part of the snail (snail eggs) which will gradually transfer into an adult snail. The snail eggs or snail caviar can be used in preparing soups. They can also be consumed alone. However, if you’re rearing snails, it is important that you preserve your snail eggs for reproduction.
This is an external secretion that resembles mucus. It is jelly in nature and contains 91-98% water. The slime could be used for the following purposes:
Traditionally, snail slime can be used in the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers, and in the form of syrup, to soothe a cough. It can also be used in the treatment of burns. This benefit is prevalent in Cameroun where the Bamiléké people use it to treat burns.
It can also be used for cosmetics purposes because it contains hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein, proteoglycans, antimicrobial and copper peptides, which are ingredients of beauty products and proven to be beneficial for the skin.
For serums, facial masks, moisturizers, and fading creams, the snail secretion filtrate is also an ingredient and one of the features that make it widely accepted is the neutral look, smell and texture.
Overall, snail slime can be used to treat dry skin, wrinkles and stretch marks, acne and rosacea, age spots, burns, scars, razor bumps, and even flat warts. The slime has been said to contain anti-aging ingredients because of its ability to stimulate the development of collagen and elastin. Also, it protects skin from free radicals, soothes the skin as well as helps to repair damaged tissues and restore hydration.
Now that you know the benefits of snails, let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider before starting this business.
Currently, a signification percentage of the snails supplied to the local markets in the country are picked from the forests. However, the growing population and the increasing interest in snail meat make the method of supply unsustainable.
In other words, there is a glaring opportunity for prospective snail farmers in the country. Starting your own snail farm will go a long way in satisfying the growing demand and your ability to provide snails on a consistent basis will ensure a steady stream of cash is going into your bank account.
Apart from the clear-cut opportunity, it is also quite interesting to note that in terms of cost and time, snail farming is a low risk business. This is very much unlike other livestock businesses which require a significant amount of investment to start up and operate.
In addition, your snail farm can be operated from your backyard and the animal is environment-friendly because their droppings are not offensive unlike poultry birds or pigs. They are also noiseless animals which mean that your backyard farm won’t be a nuisance in your neighborhood.
Snails are known to multiply quite fast as they can lay up to 100 eggs in one go. This is because they are hermaphrodites (have both male and female sexual organs) and they get to mate easily throughout the year. However, this high reproduction rate can make them a nuisance in the environment if they are not placed within an adequate housing system.
Hence if you’re looking to start your snail farm just ensure that the fast reproductive ability is curtailed by constructing the necessary housing system. And this feature should be a delight to you because your harvest will be plentiful giving you high returns on your investment.
Now, let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to successfully operate a snail farm in Nigeria in 2019.
Step #1: Write your business plan
The first step to starting any business is to create a business plan. The business plan is very important because it gives you a picture of how your business should be.
In this case, your plan will include the amount of capital you intend to start with, your revenue forecast, the number of snails you will be starting with and many more. Also, a good business plan will make it easy for you to access loans and capital from investors.
Step # 2: Choose the right species
Snails are grouped under the Molluscan, Gastropod class. There are many species of snails and the snail species that are suitable for snail farming include:
1. Achatina fulica
The East African land snail or giant African land snail is known scientifically as Achatina fulica. This specie is the smallest in size when compared to other suitable species used for farming.
Achatina fulica is known for its narrow, conical shell, which is twice as long as it is wide and contains 7 to 9 whorls when fully grown. The shell is reddish-brown and it is complemented with weak yellowish vertical markings. However, the colour of the snail shell varies based on the environment and the diet of the snail.
The adult species sometimes grow beyond 20cm in shell length but the average is between 5 and 10cm. Also, the average weight of the snail is estimated at approximately 32 grams.
2. Achatina achatina
Achatina achatina is known as the Giant West African Snail, it is also commonly called the giant Ghana snail or the giant tiger land snail.
Typically, the Giant African land snails are hemraphrodites which means they possess both the female and male reproductive organs but when breeding you still need two snails although these snails are very fertile breeders.
Similar to the other species in the genus, Achatina achatina’s shell can attain a length of 200 mm and a maximum diameter of 100 mm. typically, they have between 7 and 8 whorls with the wide shell being ovate.
Achatina achatina is an excellent commercial breed and it is quite profitable. This is mainly due to the volume of eggs it lays. For example, each snail can lay between 300 and 500 eggs at a time in clutches, three times a year. So, if you start your farm with about 1000 snails, you can get as many as 1.5 million snails each year.
3. Archachatina marginata
Archachatina marginata is commonly called the banana rasp snail. This specie can grow up to 20cm long, and live up to 10 years. The origin of this specie can be traced to Nigeria although it has also been found in Liberia and Ghana.
Archachatina marginata is one of the most desirable snail specie because of its size. It is also loved by snail farmers because of its high yield capacity.
Step #3: Select your location
Choosing the right location is extremely important. It is a well-known fact that snails can get easily dehydrated and the effect of the wind increase the rate of moisture loss in snail which in turn, leads to the dryness of the animal. If you’re looking to prevent the snails from losing water so quickly, your snaileries (the snail house) must be located in an environment that is protected from the wind.
The ideal site for snail farming is a low plain, downhill site with enough trees on the land area. You can also plant plantains and banana tree to reduce the effect of the wind on the farm.
Another important choice to make is the type of soil for your snail farming. The snail’s major habitat is the soil, and soil contains some of the components and chemical substances that it needed to survive. In fact, the shell of the snail is mainly calcium and it derives most of them from the soil. Snail also lays its eggs on the soil and drinks water out of the soil.
Hence, the right soil for snail farming must contain calcium. Additionally, it must not waterlogged, not too dry, and must not be acidic. The best soil for snail is sandy-loamy soil with a low water holding capacity. You should avoid clayey soil and acidic soil.
Step #4: Construct the snailery
The place where snails are housed is called snailery. This can be a fenced area that protects the snails from the wind. If you’re doing snail farming on a small scale, it can also be a covered box
If you are rearing a large population of snails, you can dig a trench or make a concrete pen with soil deep of about 10 inches but make sure you cover the area with a screen or wire mesh to prevent the snails from escaping.
Generally, snails reproduce very fast making it easy for them to become pests. This is why they must be housed in a suitable environment.
Also, snails are known to love a dark and cool place. You can use fresh leaves and regularly wet their abode to regulate the temperature.
It is a well-known fact that snails stay in dark and cold places, but you should ensure the humidity does not drop to levels harmful to the snails. Another option is to use fresh leaves and cloth to wet the ground in order to regulate the temperature.
The wire mesh is an excellent security measure to keep away pests and predators like rats and snakes or other predators from eating the snails in your snail farm. Snails can also be destroyed by ants and termites.
Step #5: Gather your snails
When starting your snail farm, it is recommended that you get your snails directly from the forest instead of buying from the market. The reason for this is because snails drink a lot of water and the ones sold in the market are already dehydrated. Typically, the stress of dehydration can affect their fertility adversely.
One of the most effective ways of picking snails from the bush is to clear a portion of land during rainy season and sprinkle spicy fruits like pineapple, pawpaw, plantain, banana etc at about 5 pm in the evening, when you go back there about 7pm or 8pm, you will pick up snails suitable for rearing. Repeat the procedure until you get enough quantity.
If you decide to buy the snail in the market, you can check for the fertility of the eggs. This is done by putting the egg inside a container of wet sand and covering with cocoyam leaf. Between 21 and 28 days, the eggs would hatch into baby snails. If the eggs don’t hatch during this timeframe, it means the snail’s fertility is low.
Step #6: Feed the snails
Generally, snails feed on green leaves and fruits although they can also eat other types of foods such as fruits and formula from the feed store. The types of leaves they feed on include cocoyam leaves, pawpaw leaves, okra leaves, cassava leaves, eggplant leaves, cabbage and lettuce leaves. They also eat fruits such as mango, eggplant, pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, oil palm fruits, pears and cucumber.
However, the most important factor when feeding snail is calcium. This is because low calcium intake will slow down the growth of the snails and cause the shells to be thinner. You can use the leaves of green cabbage as an excellent source of calcium.
Other sources of calcium for snails include broken rock fragments of limestone. You can place these rock fragments in pens or the habitat where you plan to house your snails. These stones can be found easily in stores where poultry feeds are sold or you can got to the hills of Okpella in Edo, Nkalagu in Ebonyi, Obajana in Kogi or Mfanmosing in Cross River to get sacks of this rock.
Step #7: Harvest the snails
It takes 1 to 2 years for the Achatina snail to get ready for harvest. If you can harvest a hundred thousand snails during harvest that can fetch 5 million considering each snail is sold for N50.
You should not harvest your snails before maturity because it isn’t economically wise. Also, you don’t have to harvest all your snails. You can keep a select few for breeding purpose in preparation for the next harvest.
Step #8: Marketing
After harvesting, the next step is to separate the big ones from the small ones. You can choose to sell the snail at the local market or you can export them. The export option is more lucrative but you need to harvest large quantities to meet the demands of the international market.
Overall, when you compare your revenue to the initial investment, you will discover that snail farming in Nigeria is quite profitable