Every Nigerian should know the importance of snail, especially when it comes to preparing meals such as native soup or eating roasted snail at bars and in restaurants.
Snails are indeed a huge part of the food, especially in most West African home.
A plate of roasted snail which may contain anywhere from around 6 pieces to 10 pieces of snail, sometimes lesser can cost from ₦2,500 to ₦3,000, once again depending on the size of the snail and location of the eatery.
Because of their healthy and nutritious value – low fat, low cholesterol, high proteinous content. They have become a very essential part of different meal production in and out of Africa.
In this article, I will give a brief introduction into one of the multimillion naira business called SNAIL FARMING. I will explain in a bit about how to start snail farming and the process associated with snail farming business in Nigeria and also some interesting point every entrepreneur should pay attention to.
When starting a snail business, the species that is most suitable is the Achatina Genus specie, popularly called The Giant Africa Land Snail. This particular specie of snail is also known to grow up to 25-30 cm in length and can be found in rain forest or densely populated bush in West Africa.
There are several things one has to take into consideration when starting this business such as the capital involve, breeding and rearing of the snail which include cost of feeding, housing, productivity, marketing.
We all venture into businesses to make money, but having the passion on the kind of business you want to venture into can play a significant role in determining how well you make that money.
Starting a snail business, isn’t for the lazy ones and those who do not like to research and engage in experiment (you will do a lot of experiment to determine what will best be perfect for your snail) or even for those looking for quick money.
All business need capital in other to be established. Luckily snail business isn’t capital intensive and can be established with whatever capital you have. The mayor concern when it comes to worrying about money is when erecting your snail pen, if you have an open space in your back yard or a farm then this can save you a lot of money in renting or leasing a land.
Generally, the amount you will spend when starting this business depends on your knowledge of how to source for local feed and the cost of building a pen. So one need to have a rough estimate of around ₦50,000 for erecting the pen and ₦30,000 for buying the breeder snail (preferably if you can source them from the bush yourself) ₦20,000 for feeding and ₦20,000 for miscellaneous that’s a total of ₦120,000 can start this business in a small scale manner.
ERECTING THE STRUCTURE
This is totally based on you and your capital and most importantly on your style and taste of the kind of snail pen you want. You can follow the example that is in the picture below.
The most important thing that every aspiring snail farmer need to do is to even the snail distribution in the pen evenly. Do not allow them (snail) to cluster around each other as this can reduce their fertility rate and can increase the mortality rate and the rate at which they can get infected.
Having snails cluster together can suppresses their reproduction rate, reduce their growing stage, which can bring about dwarf snail, dwarf snail sell lower than a normal snail. For example you might considering having 20 adult snail in a square meter space as this is enough space for them to get around normally.
Snails are very easy to feed as they eat almost all organic food that is non-toxic and contain no salt (Sodium chloride, NaCl). Snails eat food ranging from fruits and vegetable, cabbage, pumpkin leafs, lettuce, pawpaw (leaf) etc.
Snails needs lot of nutrients to grow healthier. Nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium of all this three I just mentioned one of the most needed which is calcium.
Calcium helps the snail to look healthier and have a normal shell size and look. Snails with low intake of calcium will have a thinner and awkward shell shape.
Cabbage happens to be a good source of calcium, along with egg shell and lime stone, pawpaw leaf also is a good source of protein, which are essential to snail growth.
Pawpaw leaf, pawpaw fruit along with cabbage are some of the best natural/organic food for snails.
As I earlier said, snail tend to have a high rate of fertility and productivity when space evenly. Packing 20 mature snail in a square meter space is good enough to give them the opportunity to be fertile. So try to reduce the rate at which the cluster as their slime can hoard and distribute disease.
When your snails lay eggs, it is advised to removed them and lay them in a hatching tray with a loamy soil beneath and a little above to keep them warm. Incubation period for snail is between 18 to 22 day, so every morning you watch them closely to see which one has hatch and you keep them in their nursery.
Marketing your snail depends on two factor: your location and your marketing skills. If you live next to a market then you can sell directly to the seller or if you live in urban city you can contact restaurants, caterers. Who will buy from you that is if you can supply in large quantities.
If you understand how the digital world works, you can run online ad campaign which will attract potential buyers and even investors.
When selling your snail, you should time the seasons and make sure they work in your favour. During the months of October to May, the demand for snail are in there peak as the dry season comes snails start to aestivate, that is when snail go into hiding and sleeping in the forest.
During this period, that’s the best time to sell your snail as there price usually sky rocket. But the best time to start rearing and breeding is during the months of October/November down to the month of June as the raining season makes the ground wet and breading snails in the forest can be easily seen.
In summary, snail in the forest mature in 24 months but snails that are properly reared can mature in less than 8 or 9 months sometimes lesser depending entirely on the farmer. This is because most snails in the forest go into aestivation during the dry season but farmed snails do not aestivate if and only if properly reared and the time spent by forest snail in aestivating are used by farmed snail to grow bigger and healthier.
It takes money to achieve a wonderful snail farm, but I greatly recommend you start small and slowly increase, do not make the mistake of over spending your money and resources, once again start small and slowly increase.
I would love to hear from you please do comment below and share with your friends and family if you find this article fascinating.