By Agropreneur Nigeria - Associate of The Unknown Nigeria
Snail is called different names in Africa, like - eju, nwa, ìgbín, katantanwa, wɔba, konokono, slak, mulaca. The snail is a small to medium sized ‘mollusc’ that is generally split into three groups which are land snails, sea snails and freshwater snails. Achatina species is a species of land snails that include Arhatina achatina (Tiger Snails), Archatina marginata (Giant African Land Snails) and Achatina fulica (Garden Snail) -which is the smallest of all.
The snails are hermaphrodites, (i.e. they have male and female parts) the individuals mate with each other before laying eggs. They are also coldblooded and can live for several years while growing to 25cm in some species. They have about 90 calories per 100 grams of weight and provide a low calorie source of protein which helps in building and repairing our muscle. They are also good sources of Iron, Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Selenium, and Omega3 -which is really good for the heart. Snails are environmentally friendly, they are most active during the night and they require low capital investment compared to poultry, pigs, goats, sheep, cattle.
Thinking of starting up?
Snail farming business has a very high rate of return and the best time to start up a snail farm is in the rainy season especially from July to October because that is the time snails normally start to breed. You should also note that prices of snails multiply during scarcity between March and December, in the dry season.
Which is the most lucrative amongst the Achatina species?
The Tiger Snails and Giant African Land Snails are the most lucrative amongst the Achatina species because they grow so big and lay more eggs. When thinking of getting a snail to start up with – that is the- initial breeding stock, you can decide to go for sexually mature snails, weighing at least 100-125 grams as recommended by Freeman (2013).
Note that each of this 2 species is capable of laying 100- 500 eggs in a year. This means that if you start a snail farm with 5 snails this year, you will probably get about 75,000 snails in one year! This is actually going by the number of eggs laid by the 5 snails, the percentage of eggs that are likely to hatch out, and the percentage that will survive after hatching.
Where can I get the snails?
You can get many snails from the forest, uncultivated lands and in the market. They can also be picked up in the day time after a rainfall. Also, they can be found under wet boards and surfaces, piles of leaves and sticks, wet stones, walls, the trunk of trees.
The best time to get them from places other than the market is in the night. Don’t forget they are always active in the night. So, you can clear a little portion of land in the evening during the rainy season and place some fruits after which you leave the place. After about 3 – 4 hours you can go back to pick available snails. This process can be repeated till you get the number you want to start up with. When buying snail eggs from the market ensure it has not been exposed to sunlight, as exposure to sun has a negative effect on the fertility of the eggs.
How do I keep them safe?
When selecting an appropriate site for housing the snails, consider –climate, wind speed and direction, soil characteristicsand protection of the snails from diseases and predators.
Snails need damp, not wet, environments and they derive most of their water requirements from the soil. They love to dig the soil to lay their eggs.
A soil that supports good growth of cocoyam, tomatoes and leafy vegetables, is suitable for snail farming. Ensure to loosen the soil by tilling.
Snails are good at escaping from where they are kept, so, for a rewarding business venture, you should endeavor, to construct escape proof housing. You can use a pen house that will be spacious and accessible with a soil deep of 10inch, and trees around it. Snails can also be reared in boxes made of suitable substances like wire gauze (net), wood, straw etc.
In other to avoid flies and ants, the removal of leftover food and cleaning should be done appropriately, also endeavor to control predators and secure the pen with nets, wire and nylon mesh. Note that changing of the soil once every 3 months and allowing them to grow to reach their proper size and weight is also essential.
What should I feed them with?
They are vegetarians and can be fed with wide varieties of foods. You can feed them with – leaves of lettuce, cabbage, cassava, okra and pawpaw – also fruits like cucumber, mango, banana, eggplant, pear, tomato and paw- paw. Banana, paw paw and pineapple peels can also be given to them. Snails can also be feed with leftover food like rice, fufu and pap but salt intake can make them sick or even kill them. So any leftover food you give them, should not contain salt!
Who will buy the snails?
The demand for supply of snail is very important; no one wants to run at a loss. People that will constantly need and demand for your snails include; restaurants, pepper soup joints ,canteens, stores, supermarkets, event planners and caterers, shopping malls, institutions, hotels, friends and your darling family members. You can have an agreement with this people on when, amount and number of snails that should be supplied.
Snail business will definitely not give you quick money but in the long run you will be happy about your investment that will give huge returns. Now is indeed the time to start!