Introduction To Snail Farming In Nigeria
Farming in this part of the world is often attributed to crops. Snail farming in Nigeria has been in existence since time immemorial. However, little or no attention has been paid to it as a source of livelihood.
Heliciculture according to Wikipedia, is the process of raising edible land snails for human consumption or cosmetic use. It’s the rearing of snails with the intent to make available healthy proteinuous meat, that contains no fat or cholesterol, for the family or commercial consumption and cosmetic purpose.
In the past, people engaged in snail farming in Nigeria only to provide meat for the family. In recent times, it’s no longer so because more people have come to a realization that it’s a business that is viable and can give you 100% profit margin if done the right way. There are three common species of land snail in Nigeria. They are popularly called the Giant African Land Snails and are best recommended for snail farming in Nigeria. They are in high demand in both local and international markets because of its high nutritional value. They are;
1. Achatina Marginata specie; lays only 6-14 eggs three to four time a year. Its king size makes it one of the best species for snail farming in Nigeria. Its egg becomes a snail hatchling within 2 to 4 weeks and is about 16 to 18mm in diameter when the weather is good.
2. Achatina Achatina specie; can lay 200-400 eggs at once, two or three times in a year. It measures around 21 centimeters in length and 7.5 centimeters in height. Its growth speed is faster than other species, when given the appropriate feed and is kept in a suitable environment. It’s unarguably the best specie for large scale or commercial snail farming in Nigeria. It becomes a snail hatchling between 3 weeks and is about 8mm in diameter in a good environment and weather.
3. Achatina Fulica specie; lays 100-400 eggs about 6 times a year. This specie is almost like Achatina Achatina specie. It’s only smaller in size than the Achatina Achatina specie. Its egg becomes a snail hatchling within 2 weeks and it’s about 4mm in diameter in a favorable weather.
The snail is an invertebrate and can be found in fresh or salt water and also on land. They are omnivorous animals and can feed on plants and animals alike. They are adaptable to any soft, well cooked and scented homemade meals. Snails fed on fruits and foods like paw-paw, banana, watermelon, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, flowers, mangoes, cucumber, wheat, juicy leaves and vegetables etc. They have a large appetite for any tasty food.
The snail may be sluggish but not in eating. They eat like their lives truly depend on the food. As a matter of fact, they eat virtually all foods that humans eat so long as it’s soft and succulent They are such wonderful creatures. Snails also take water, beverages, fruit juice, wine, and soft drinks. Land snails are nocturnal by nature and as such are more active in the evening. The farmer may consider replacing their food late every evening or night since they feed only once in a day.
The snail is a hermaphrodite. It means that it has both sexes and can perform male and female reproductive function in one, though they cross fertilize. As interesting as the snail business sounds, it’s not without some challenges. Let’s looks at some of the problems facing snail farming in Nigeria.
Problems of snail farming in Nigeria:
1. One of the major setbacks is lack of veterinary services: Farmers do not get professional care when their snails are having health issues. The government should ensure that attention is given to snail farming in our higher institutions so that we can have professionals that snail farmers can go to as the need arises.
2. Another difficulty that snail farmers face in Nigeria is predators: This is one of the major worries of snail farmers. Snails must be protected from predators like beetles, rodents, lizards, moles, birds, snakes, soldier ants, millipedes, frogs etc. It’s advised that you kill any predator at sight to safe guard the snails in the pen.
3. Lack of trainings on improved snail husbandry: So many people who wish to start up snail farming business in Nigeria may relent because they lack access to trainings or seminars where they can garner vital information. Resource persons in the field of Agriculture in Nigeria, should endeavor to meet this need so this gap can be filled.
4. Absence of technical knowledge.
What are the factors militating against snail farming in Nigeria?
As lucrative as snail farming business sounds to an entrepreneur, there are quite a number of factors militating against snail farming in Nigeria. Below are some of the major factors;
1. Cultural factor: Some parts of the South Eastern/ Western Nigeria forbid snail meat. It’s against their cultural beliefs to eat escargot. Elsewhere, it’s a taboo for a pregnant woman to eat snail meat. She has to avoid it so that she won’t deliver babies that drool. This is so laughable!, Snail farming can never thrive in environments like these.
2. Slow growth rate: Considering the size of a snail, it’s incredible that a snail can take about 7-12 months to reach full maturity. Snail farming is not business for anyone who wants to get rich quick.
3. Climatic factor: One of the limitations of snail farming is the climate. Snail farming cannot be practiced in every season. The rainy season is the best time to start up a snail farm in Nigeria because the snails commence breeding around that time being July to October. What this means is that other seasons are not convenient for the business. The price of snail also goes up during scarcity. It doesn’t mean that you can’t start snail farming in dry season, But the best time is during the rainy season.
How lucrative is snail farming in Nigeria?
Snail farming in Nigeria, is a very lucrative and profitable business that is still untapped. It’s a business venture that requires a low startup capital, involves minimal risk, and has high profitability. You will keep smiling to the bank as long as you have done the right thing.
Although, how much a farmer can make from a snail farming business is dependent on the performance and size of your snails which is determined by what you feed them. It could be sold from #500-#700. Multiply it by the number of matured snails that the farmer has. Let’s look at it this way. A snail farmer has 1000 matured snails and they are sold at #600 on the average.
#600×1000 snails= #600,000 in one cycle. Awe-mazing!
Imagine if the farmer has more than 1000 snails.
It’s also less time consuming and requires little or no supervision, unlike many other livestock businesses. It can even be operated as a side hustle.
Here’s a simple analysis of how profitable snail farming is in Nigeria:
Let’s say you start a snail farm with 1,000 adult land snails and they lay 100 eggs each in one year. Some species can do 2 or 3 clusters in a year.
Then we have 100×3= 300 eggs each snail. Cost of 1,000 snails for breeding= 1,000×300(naira)= #300,000. 300 snails from 1,000 base stock=300×1,000= 300,000
If you choose to sell 100,000 snails after a year out of the 300,000 snails in your snail farm, you will arrive at 100,000x#200 per snail (quoted price) = #20,000,000
What are we not talking about! Do go through this analysis again. You can only make this kind of profit if the business is run professionally and the right procedures duly followed.
NB: This is only a rough estimate but it’s achievable.
Business plan for snail farming in Nigeria:
A business plan is an important thing to consider when you desire to operate a successful snail farm in Nigeria.
It’s a document that contains the snail farming business startup expenses, funding requirements, objectives, mission, projected profit and loss, farm products and services, major competitors and many more. All these should be figured out before commencing a snail farm business in Nigeria.
For any business to stand the test of time, it is important to have a clear mapped out plan on how to grow such business. A business plan for snail farming in Nigeria is essential to both the entrepreneur and to potential investors.
How to start snail farming in Nigeria:
1. As is recommended for every business, it’s needful to do a market survey before starting up a snail farming business in Nigeria to know your target audience. It’s of utmost importance that the farmer knows who to supply matured, harvested snails to. The major target audience for snail farming are;
1. Pharmacy companies that use snail slime or mucus for medical and cosmetic production.
2. Restaurants that serve snail meat as part of their relished cuisine(escargot).
3. Local and international super markets and open markets.
Hotels and bars
When this is sorted out, the next necessary things to put in place are a space or pen (snail house), purchase of fresh adult snails, make healthy soil available, feeding, handling and processing the snails.
2. A snail pen must be secured to protect the snails from predators and pests. It has to be comfortable and safe from harsh weather or anything that could cause discomfort to the snails. An overpopulated pen obstructs the growth and development of snails. So, this should be strictly avoided. Make the snail farm as free and spaced as possible, with a so depth of about 10 inches.
Build the snail house in a humid, moist and treated soil and introduce earthworms to help loosen it. The pen should be cleaned every three days and the soil texture monitored.
3. Buy adult land snails (POL). This in snail farming is very important. You should insist on fresh, matured and quality snails to start your snail farm. Choose the specie you want to rear. It must be a particular type of snail. Achatina Marginata remains the most recommended in Nigeria.
4. Snail feed supply must contain all necessary and appropriate nutrients. Feed them quality food to enhance their maturity. Calcium must be contained in their food to aid build and repair their shell. It constitutes 97% of the snails shell and that indicates how important it is in their feed. You can get calcium from oyster shell, snail shell, bone meals and egg shell. Grind them into fine powder and feed the snails or add to the soil.
5. Sprinklers and humidifiers are necessary equipment needed to maintain the climatic temperature and keep it between 16° to 24°C. Snails love humid and wet environment.
6. To enjoy a successful snail culture, a snail farmer that intends to make good money from snail farming must maintain good hygiene. It can reduce or prevent the outbreak and spread of diseases and improve the growth of the snails.
Small scale snail farming in Nigeria:
Small scale snail farming in Nigeria does not require a very large space or capital to start up. A space the size of a room is enough to serve as a pen. The farmer can turn even a garage or any shaded space into a snail house. The cost of starting a small scale snail farming can be between #60,000 to #150,000 depending on the number of snails the farmer intends to rear.
For starters, 100-500 large sized adult snails will serve. It’s easy to operate unlike other livestock businesses. It does not make noise, constitute nuisance nor mess up the environment.
The following equipment are needed to run a small scale snail farm;
• Water tank
• Weighing scale
• Watering cans
• Hand trowels
Commercial snail farming in Nigeria:
Commercial snail farming is raising land snails in massive quantity in an organized rearing system and breeding, so as to achieve a sizeable and viable snail meat supply, to the overflowing population in Nigeria.
There are three systems of snail farming in Nigeria. They are;
Extensive system or outdoor pen: It’s that style of rearing snails in an open space or field. The snails are allowed to move around the field and fend for themselves. This style is not advisable for commercial snail farming.
Intensive system or indoor pen: This is a high-yielding snail housing system. It’s an easy to implement snail farming technique. By either using large baskets, old tires stacked together on each other or a shaded area in the home, a pen can be built at home. It’s also recommended for commercial snail farming.
Mixed or Semi- Intensive system: In this style, the snails are sometimes raised on pasture and other times in a cage with minimal attention. The egg laying and hatching process takes place in a controlled environment.
Equipment for commercial snail farming in Nigeria:
1. Hygrometer for humidity
2. Thermometer for temperature
3. Soil moisture sensor for soil moisture
4. A weight scale
5. A drainage system
6. Sprinklers to regulate water and keep the snails wet
7. Feed trough
8. Water trough
9. Hand gloves
10. Colored Marker
Environment and Management of snail farm:
The essence of good hygiene and maintaining your snail farm cannot be over emphasized. In order to keep your snail pen safe, you must;
1. Avoid visitors entering into the snail house.
2. Don’t give chlorinated water to your snails. Provide fresh, natural and untreated water for them.
3. Protect your snails from predators as mentioned earlier.
4. Properly check every material that goes into the farm.
5. Always keep the soil wet and moist especially during dry season and harmattan seasons.
6. Introduce earthworms to the soil to loosen it.
7. The pen should be cleaned every two to three days.
8. Supplement the feed or soil with snail shell, egg shell, oysters shell and bone meal grinded to fine powder.
9. Snails are fragile and should be handled with care.
Your snail may likely attain full maturity at 4 to 7 months when properly managed with the right feeds and in a breathable space. Harvesting should be done during wet weather and weekly too. Do not harvest all grown snails. You will need some ad your foundation stock. Only the matured ones should be harvested. Indiscriminate harvesting must be avoided at all cost. A suitable breeding space is mandatory in snail farming.
Cost of snail farming in Nigeria:
The cost of starting any business, is an integral part of planning the business. You can start up a snail farm with #70,000 to #150,000 except if you want to go into commercial snail farming. You can economize the cost of buying a farmland by setting up your snail farm at your backyard. Snail farming is seasonal. You may consider launching your snail business in the rainy season especially from July to October. Also bear in mind that snail price goes up during scarcity which is between December and March.
We would wish to encourage you to go into snail farming with these few reasons below;
• Snail farming is environmentally friendly
• Highly productive if managed professionally
• Easy for beginners
• Low startup cost
• Highly medicinal
• Easy to manage
• Multiplies exponentially
Snail farming is the new goldmine in Nigeria and it has been overlooked by budding agricultural entrepreneurs because of little or no information. There’s no better time than now to invest in this very high profitable business.
Exportation of snails can also be considered. All that is required are quality snails, a registered business, tax, export license, startup capital, processing and packaging equipment and your life will never remain the same.