I will be sharing with you some basic steps on how to start snail farming, make steady profit from snail farming business and the opportunity that abound in exporting snail outside the country for greater profit.
Snail Farming (Heliculture): Snail Farming Is the process of rearing snail for human consumption and other purposes either on a small scale or large scale.
Snail farming is one of the untapped money spinning ventures when compared to other forms of agribusiness. Snail Farming happens to be one of the most neglected farming in Africa as a result of ignorance, as Africans are yet to exploit full potentials of Snail Farming business on subsistence and commercial level. Some sources suggest that, globally , the snail industry represents more than USD 12 billion , with 450,000 tons consumed per year. While a part of this comes from developed countries, the greater majority of the production comes from the collection of snails in the wild in developing countries. Profitability emerges not only from the low cost of the animal, low maintenance and low cost of feed , but also from snails’ rate of reproduction. Snail farmers can thus take advantage of supply and demand balance variations to strike more profitable deals in moments of low supply. Indeed , the demand for snail is higher than the supplies and as such, the market potential of snail is endless both locally and internationally.
FEATURES OF SNAIL FARMING.
- Snail Farming requires less professional training or technical know how
- There is availability of ready market locally and internationally
- Snail Farming has low mortality.
- It is Environmental friendly
- It requires low manpower.
- The feeding cost is very cheap using vegetable, fruits and other organic materials.
- Snails are more populated in African countries like Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and other West Africa Countries.
SUITABLE SNAIL SPECIES
Achatina is a genus of medium-sized to very large, air-breathing, tropical land snails, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Achatinidae. There are a lot of species of Achatinidae in Sub-Saharan Africa. Some species are kept for tourist attraction due to their size and colourful shells.
For the purposes of snail farming however, three species of that genus that are commercially viable, marketable, and of course profitable are Achatina achatina, Achatina marginata and finally, Achatina fulica.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SNAILS.
- Snails are hermaphrodite which means they have both the male and female reproductive system.
- Is an animal with a single spiral shell in which the whole body can be withdrawn
- Is a vegetarian animal that feed on leaves of green vegetables and fruits
- It secretes sliming substance called slime which protects it from predators and harsh climate.
- Snail Farming requires low capital for its set up and operation
- Snails have radula which serves as teeth for feeding
- Snails hibernate during extreme cold seasons –temperatures below 5 degree centigrade.
- Snail aestivate if the temperature is too hot greater than 30 degree centigrade or humidity too low 70-75 % relative humidity.
- Snails are active at night and are called Nocturnal Animals.
- They are oviparous and can lay eggs between 10 and 30 days after mating.
- Eggs laying takes place during the rainy season or when provided with the required food, which are mostly juicy vegetables, constant water, a favorable weather condition of an average of 25 degree Centigrade to 30 degree Centigrade and humidity of 80%.
- Snail meat is rich in protein, minerals, vitamins, and low in cholesterol. It has high nutritional value.
BENEFITS OF SNAIL FARMING.
The benefits of Snail farming cannot be underscored because of the endless prospect in the business .Snails sell very high compared to other meat. Setting up Snail Farm can go a long way in mitigating Unemployment, Nutritional and Health problems. The benefits are listed below-
- Nutritional Value: Snail meat is a good source of animal protein when compared to other animal protein. It is rich in essential amino acid, iron, potassium, phosphorous, Vitamin A &C, Calcium, and Magnesium and has low fat/Cholesterol. Its high nutritional content is good for body building, tissue repairs, growth and bone development. Also, Snail Shell which is rich in calcium can be used in producing animal feed.
- Cosmetic Value: Skincare Industry uses snail secretions in making serums, Facial Masks, moisturizers and fading Creams. Also, it has been discovered that Snail Mucin can be used to treat skin dryness, wrinkles and stretch marks as it aids in development of collagen and elastin which helps to soothe skin, repair damaged tissues and restore hydration. Skincare companies is another local market for snail business.
Snail Slime contain biological components such as hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein, Proteoglycans, Antimicrobial and Copper Peptides which provides protections to the skin against UV Rays and other microbial attack to the skin.
- Medicinal value: The Snail meat contain low cholesterol which has made it useful in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and other heart-related diseases. People suffering from heart –related diseases are advised to eat Snail meat instead of red meat. The Snail shell contain zinc which is good for prostrate health and weight loss. Also, the sliming secretion is therapeutic agent for health related ailment.A mixture of bluish fluid found when snail shell is broken from the rear and palm kernel oil in equal parts when rubbed on the body reduces the severity of stroke or hemiplegia and severe headache.
- Economic value: Snail farming is a good way of generating income. It can serve as a means of job creation. One can create wealth through snail farming Agribusiness. It helps you create wealth within a short period. It has large market demand for local consumption and for export. It is a foreign exchange earner
Snail Farming Profits and Methods of Snails Rearing involves 3 methods.
The Snail Rearing involves 3 methods-
- Extensive System: Extensive system means the snails move freely about in a free range snail pen. It is an outdoor form of raising snails. The snails feed on the vegetation or food materials available in the pen. The snails receive little or no supervision from the farmer. No external Snail feed is introduced to the pen that will enhance their growth and development.
Advantages of Extensive System:
- The Snails move freely without restriction.
- The Farmer does not spend money buying formulated feeds, rather the snails feeds mainly on vegetables and organic materials provided in the pen.
- It does not require much labour and management inputs.
Disadvantages of Extensive System
- The mortality rate is very high
- The snails are prone to predators attack such as snakes,Termites, rats etc
- There is poor management of diseases in Extensive System of Snail Farming
- It requires enough space or large mass of land for the raising of the snails,.
- Record keeping is very and difficult to carry out.
- The Farmer cares little for their performance.
- Mixed or Semi- Intensive System: This system involves placing the breeding snails in a controlled environment to lay eggs and hatch , after that the hatchlings are removed after 6-8 weeks to outside pen to grow and develop. External feeds are provided to the hatchlings and the breeding snails housed in the pen. This is the combination of Extensive and Intensive System.
- Intensive or Closed System: This is the process raising of snails in a pen confined in a building under controlled environment. Here the snails are fed using a formulated snail feed mixture that contain all the protein , carbohydrate, minerals ,vitamins and also on vegetables and other food materials required for their growth and development.
To Start Snail Farming, 10 Essential Factors to Consider are.
HProspective Snail Farmer should consider the following factors before selecting Site, as Suitable Site is one of the pre-requisite for a successful Snail Farming which should encompass the following factors below-
1. Location of Farm: Consider the proximity and Space.
- The Snail Farm should be close to the Farmer’s residence for quick monitoring, and accessibility regularly.This will help in keeping the predators away from the Farm and ability to detect any problem on time.
The Typography should be flat, downhill with cover trees such as banana or plantain planted around the Snail Farm.A spacious farm land will limit the spread of diseases and easy expansion as the case may be.
The Snail farm should have soil rich in humus and organic matter gotten from dead plants and animals’ materials. The soil should contain calcium that will promote egg and snail shell formation. You can introduced formulated feed rich in calcium as well.
Also, ensure that the soil loose and that its calcium and water content is high. Acidic soil should be avoided, because acidic soil would interfere or hinder the development of the Snail shell. Avoid waterlogged or clay soil because it will encourage the growth of pathogenic organism that will destroy the snails.
- Moisture Content of the Soil: Snails thrive well in a moist soil so that they can move freely and dig into the soil to lay their eggs. The soil should be kept continuously damp even in dry seasons using irrigation to avoid aestivation and to provide the suitable conditions for their survival and multiplication. To maintain humidity and moisture levels in dry locations, you can us misting sprayers.
- Wind Direction: Snail Farm should be sited in a windless environment, as wind leads to dehydration and makes the snails to dry up quickly and die.
- Temperature and Humidity: Snails are cold blooded animals and are sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature. Snails prefer habitat that is neither too hot nor cold. Hibernation occurs when the temperature is too cold and snails tend to withdraw .The optimal temperature for Snails is of about 10 – 23 degrees centigrade.
Other factors on how to start Snail Farming include:
- Conduct a Feasibility study: Find out what and what are involved in snail farming such as the capital involved, best place to site the farm etc.
- Prepare a business plan: You need an operational tool that will direct your step. A business plan is a pre-requisite for engaging with investors and help you identify and secure financial resources from investors.
- Construction of the Snail Farm (Snailery): Before you construct your Snail pen you have to decide whether you want it on a small scale or a large scale. You can set up a snail farm using of different sizes using materials like baskets, drums, tires. If you can avoid the money, you can construct a layer farm. Also, when constructing the snail pen, give enough room for the snails to avoid overcrowding. Overpopulation causes decrease in number of eggs produced, low weight gains and deaths due to build-up of slime on the ground. Lower stocking rates produce larger snails in a shorter time. For African snails, density stocks of about 100 juveniles or 30 pre-adult snails per square meter are recommended .Make sure the pens are surrounded with cover plants such as bananas or plantain leaves.
- Sourcing Snails for your Farm: There are 3 options when it comes to sourcing snails from your farm:
- You can pick from the forest especially during the raining season when it’s dark because snails are active at night and during the raining season where they are driven out from their aestivation stage.
- Secondly, you can buy giant breeders from snail farmers know to have viable breed while you hatch your eggs.
- Thirdly, you can buy the snail eggs from existing snail farms, cover them with green vegetable leaves in a plastic bowl with damp humus soil in it and leave them to hatch. The hatching process is between 21-28 days after that you can start taking care of the baby snails called Hatchlings until they grow to maturity.
- Feeding: Snails are vegetarians and feed on variety of plant crops. Cost of feeding snail is very cheap. Most of the feeding as at night. They feed on peels of Cocoyam, leaves of Cabbage, Pawpaw and other fruits. Formulated Animal feed rich in calcium can be introduced as their feed to help quicken growth, reproduction and shell formation. Also, Poultry waste based diet can be used. A source of calcium is also important for shell formation. Ordinary school chalk works well. Powdered oyster shells or poultry eggshells can be used as readily available sources of natural calcium.
- Breeding of Snail to maturity. You have to raise the snails to maturity which is a period of 6 to 12 months.
- Pests and Disease Control: Cleanliness in Snail pen is one of the ways of combating diseases and pests in a snail farm. Pest Infestation has been a major militating factor in Snail Farming. Protect your Snails from all forms of parasites and predator invasion. Always fumigate your snail environment. Make sure you cover your farm with wire mesh or you can fence it to protect the snails from all kinds of predators like rats, snakes, and others. It is advised to change the soils in the pen once a month. If there is soldier ants’ infestation in the housing unit,follow these procedures and rid them from the Snail pen-
- Do not use any insecticide.
- Remove the snails from housing unit.
- Wash them in clean water to remove any attached insect.
- Light a rag or wood to produce smoke, this will send the ants away. Remove the topsoil.
- Make sure that the ants have disappeared before putting the snails back.
If you notice a sign of disease outbreak, follow these guidelines to combat it-
- Remove the dry leaves used for mulching, All dead snails should be removed and burnt outside the snailery,
- Top soil in the housing unit must be dug to a depth of 2 – 3cm and replaced with humus soil,
- The healthy snails should be washed in a clean water and put in the housing unit carefully, the snails should be well covered with new dry leaves. Proper management practices in terms of good feeding, adequate shading, proper mulching, optimum stocking rate and sufficient wetting will curtail or curb the incidence of disease outbreak.
- Harvesting of Matured Snails: find out if the snails have matured by observing the shell. Once the shell is harder and thicker know they are mature and are ready for harvest. You can collect the matured snails using containers ready to be taken to the market for sale. It is also advised to set out portion of the matured snails for next breeding.
- Ready Market for the Snails: Hotels, Restaurants, Cosmetic Industries, individuals and others are ready markets for the sale of your matured snails. The demand is very high both locally and internationally. You can sell it offline or online through marketing channels like social media platforms, you can set up your website or publish it on marketplace websites for buyers to contact you.Go ahead and market your matured snails to the ready markets and make your profit.