Roasted snail shells have been found in archaeological excavations, an indication that snails have been eaten since prehistoric times. There are a number of Edible land snails that range in size from about one millimeter long to the giant African snail (Achatina fulica) which occasionally grow up to 312 mm (12 1⁄4 in) in length.
Ancient method of snail farming or heliciculture have been described by Fulvius Lippinus (49 BC). The snails were fattened for human consumption using spelt and aromatic herbs. People of European decent usually raised snails in pens near the house, and these pens were called “cochlea“.
Snail farming is quite an interesting and a profitable business venture that any wise entrepreneur seeking an entry into the livestock breeding business should consider going into. Snail farming requires low start – up capital with a good return on investment from the business.
In this age of high cholesterol levels in the blood and the possible association with increased incidence of heart attacks, cardiovascular, corollary and other chronic diseases resulting from consumption of red meat, Snail which is white meat has been severally affirmed as a very safe and nutritious delicacy and is increasingly recommended by nutritionists, the demand for snail meat in the local and international market has been growing, therefore the market is large. Snail meat is popularly known as Congo Meat in some African countries, and Eju, Igbin, etc. in some of our local dialects is a delicacy in bars across Africa.
Commercial snail farming offers us new business opportunities and an alternative for livestock farmers and serious entrepreneurs who wish to make good returns on their investment. Snail farming is thriving in Nigeria today because it has been neglected and overlooked for a very long time. Breeding of snails can yield quick returns if the nitty-gritty of the modern techniques used is understood and applied by the livestock farmer.
There are so many species of snails but some are more suitable than others for commercial Snail Farming in Nigeria.
Snail Species Suitable for Snail Farming in Nigeria:
Ø Achatina Fulica
Achatina fulica is a land snail largely found in East Africa around Kenya and Tanzania. It is the smallest in size among all the desirable species for rearing in Africa. The shell is generally reddish-brown in colour with weak yellowish vertical markings but colouration varies with environmental conditions and diet. Adults of the species may exceed 20cm in shell length but generally average about 5 to 15cm, with an average weight of approximately 32 grams.
Ø Achatina Achatina
Achatina Achatina, a giant African snail and it is also known as the giant tiger land snail, is a species of very large, air-breathing land snail. Giant African land snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they possess both the female and male reproductive organs. Two snails are still needed for breeding, but they are very prolific breeders. Achatina-Achatina is very good for commercial breeding as well, because of its profitability. Each Achatina lays 300 to 500 eggs at a time in clutches, three times a year.
Ø Archachatina Marginata
The Archachatina Marginata are giant West African snails. They can grow up to 20 cm long. This species of land snails is found in Nigeria. These snails are nocturnal dwellers, and dislike overcrowding. If they get too crowded in a particular space, they begin to spread out. There reproduction and population increase are not as fast as the Achatina Achatina. Although it has the advantage of high adaptability, survivability, highly prolificacy, fleshier and are hardy in addition to their abundance in Nigeria.
Setting Up A Snail Farm:
When creating a snail farm, you’ll have to use a single species of snail. Research has shown that snail species such as Achatina Achatina and Archachatina Marginata are the best for warm climate regions like Africa.
Environment appropriate for Snail Farming:
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, the snail house must be located in environment that is protected from wind.
Soil Type suitable for Snail Farming:
Snail’s major habitat is the soil, and soil contains some of the components and chemical substances that it needed to survive. The shell of the snail is mainly calcium and it derive most of them from the soil. Snail also lay its eggs on the soil and drink water out of the soil.
However, not all soils are suitable for snail rearing, the most desirable soil for snail is sandy-loamy soil with low water holding capacity. Clayey soil and acidic soil are not suitable.
A wire mesh is useful in keeping away predators like rats and snakes from eating the snails in your snail farm. You should also be wary about smaller ones like ants and termites. In the construction of your Snailery (Snail House) you must have these predators in mind.
If you are interested, the following steps should get you started in the snail farming business.
To avoid unnecessary mistakes and not lose your investment, learn and understand the nitty-gritty of rearing snails in their environment by attending seminars, lectures, or workshops, watch videos and also read books on snail farming.
2. Write A Business Plan
Writer a business plan for your snail farming business. It is a living document because the business plan contains detailed financial projections, forecasts about your business’s performance, and a marketing plan.
A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable, and plans for reaching them. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals.
Unlike most agri-businesses, snail farming is not capital intensive, it is one of the cheapest agricultural businesses to venture into. it is perfect for a people looking for a way to make money or find an alternative source of income. The money needed is basically proportional to how large you desire the farm to be.
4. Snailery – Snail House
One major advantage of snail farming is that they are environment friendly i.e. they are non-polluting, and are not noise makers. Which means they can be raised in a residential area, the backyard of the farmer, or any other place the farmer finds conducive for him. snails however can reproduce fast and become pests when their breeding is uncontrolled.
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. Snails love dark, humid and cool places, but be sure that humidity does not drop to levels harmful to the snails. You can use fresh leaves and cloth that is regularly wet to regulate the temperature.
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.
5. Stocking Your Snailery
To start your snail farm, you’ll need to get snails. After setting-up proper housing and farmland for the snails, buy some fresh quality snails from the market or any snail farm. Examine the snails before you buy so that you know they are healthy and if there is a lip in their shell then they are fully grown snails. Fully grown and healthy snails will lay eggs to populate your farm.
6. Snail Food and Feeding
Snails mainly feeds on green leaves and fruits though they can utilize other types of foods. Feed your snails leaves, fruits, or even formula from the feed store. Aside from food to grow tissues, snails need calcium to grow shells.
|Cocoyam leaves pawpaw leaves okra leaves cassava leaves eggplant leaves cabbage lettuce leaves.||Mango, pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, oil palm fruits, pears. Cucumber|
Once they start growing, separate the big ones from the small ones. It takes about 18 – 24 months to grow to harvest size.
Snails should generally be harvested only when they have reached full maturity, so you can sell them for a good price that makes high returns from your investment.
Snails should be handled with care during the harvest process, because of their high fragility. Your snails can be harvested into containers, bowls, boxes, baskets, or through other means.
It’s important that every container the snails are harvested into should weigh between 7 – 10 kilograms, so they can be easily conveyed.
Snail has good market demand and price in Nigeria. You can easily sell the snails in our local markets.
The snails can be presented in a number of ways either sold directly without processing or come fresh, frozen, canned and may also come in jars flavoured with certain herbs and spices for export.
Why Snail Farming:
capital intensive (to start on a small scale).
- Snail farming can be done on part-time.
- Cheap to raise and easy to handle.
- Uses less land for Breeding.
- Snail farming can be done along with other poultry.
- Shells used for beautification and ornaments.
- Snail Meat is white meat.
- Snail meat is used in the production of local herbs.
Generally, snail flesh can be used as edible escargot, their slime in cosmetics, and their eggs for human consumption as a type of caviar.
This business can be started with about =N= 250,000 if you want to start small and grow.