Snails are slow-moving animals found on land and water. They belong to the molluscan Gastropoda class, a shelled gastropod. They possess large shells that are big enough for the animals to coil into, away from sight. There are different species of snails existing.
Some are found in salt water, fresh water, or swap land snails. Snails generally feed during the night. They feed on leaves, lichens, centipedes, insects, animal droppings, carrion, food items, worms, soil organisms, and some are cannibals. Snails can survive for 2-10 years, depending on the environment.
Heliculture is the practice of farming snails for consumption. When going into snail farming, one should consider the more profitable species, which means those able to reproduce and maximize sales.
Snails can be bred in a controlled environment with fences and barricades, in a closed tunnel or plastic containers, in buildings with supervised climate, pens kept outdoors, etc.
Table of Contents
- Economic Importance of Snail Farming
- Steps to Start a Snail Farming Business in Nigeria
- Requirements for Snail Farming In Nigeria
- Types of Snail Farming System
- Problems of Snail Farming Business In Nigeria
Economic Importance of Snail Farming
Snails’ economic importance is numerous and has so many advantages, and they include:
● A means of employment: Nigeria’s snail farming is hugely lucrative if the proper channels are used. Being in high demand by hotels, restaurants, private individuals, cosmetic companies. It will fetch you money when you go into it within a short while.
● Source of foreign exchange: Another advantage is that snails can also be exported to other countries if farmed in large commercial quantities. A Lot of demand is out there for the African snail. This has become a source of foreign exchange
● Boost to Agriculture: Finally, snail feed can be produced in large quantities and boost the agricultural sector. So through the production of meals, people become self-employed.
● Food items: most species of snails can be eaten. So many cultures all over the world eat snails. Snails generally have been adopted into many local and international cuisines.
● Fashion: Snail shells are used as fashionable items by some people. Hung around the neck, added as decorative pieces.
● Research: Snails can be used for research in labs, and also their home is used for cosmetic products.
Steps to Start a Snail Farming Business in Nigeria
Being an agriculturist in Nigeria isn’t easy and starting a snail farming business even with a lot of money comes with a lot of setbacks and issues. In this article, our experts are going to guide you by hand and show you step by step, how to start a snail farming business even with a small budget.
1. Land Acquisition
This is the first step in the snail farming business. It would help if you acquired land in a good location. Rearing snails do not consume a lot of space since they are not very big. Construct snail houses on the ground depending on how big your snail farm is.
2. Determine the type of Snail Farming System
The next thing to do is determine the type of snail farming system you want to use. There are three significant types of snail farming systems which include Intensive farming system, semi-intensive farming system, and extensive farming system. It would help if you went for the one that best suits your capacity and ability to manage.
3. Buy the Specie You Want to Rear
Buying excellent and disease-free snail species is very important if you intend to major in the snail farming business. Make thorough searches on the best species for your location and environmental condition.
What is the Species of Snail for Farming?
Snails have different species. While some are edible, others have their use, characteristics, and importance to various sectors.
The most common snail species you can find in Africa include; Achatina Achantina(AA), Archachatina Marginata(AM), Achatina Fulica. They are generally referred to as Giant African Land Snails (GALS).
Farmers usually use the Achantina Achantina (AA) and the Archachatina Marginata(AM) because they have more economic value, grow faster, and are generally more significant. Achanitina Fulica is under the classification of pests by most people. So it should not be used.
4. Practice all Necessary Requirements While Rearing
This includes taking care of the snail and doing all necessary things such as feeding, good hygiene, etc. Some of the requirements are listed and explained below
Requirements for Snail Farming In Nigeria
There are a lot of considerations that you have to put in place before you can start a successful snail farming business even in an Agric rich country like Nigeria. Here are some of the top factors to put into consideration when starting a snail business.
- Good Soil
Snails need good soil to survive. The earth provides a considerable part of their nutrition as they feed on micro soil organisms. When the snails are unable to get good soil to live in, they begin to lose their shells and, as a result, reduce their chances of survival. The ground must contain 20-40% of organic matter pH of 7.
- Good Hygiene
Like every animal husbandry, good hygiene practices are needed in snail farming. Good Hygiene helps prevent the spread of diseases reduces odors on your farm. Also, adding earthworms into their soil can help keep the snails’ environment clean. Avoid densely populated snail pens to ensure no predators are hidden amongst the snails like lizards, birds, rats, snakes, etc.
Snails can easily crawl out of the farm or their pens. Therefore you should provide measures to prevent them from crawling out ensure barriers are well structured to keep them in. Also, they must be protected from predators that feed on them.
Generally, snails do not need a lot of processed foods for survival. They can feed on food remnants, leaves, worms, etc.
- Finding a Market
Finding a market for snails is as easy as Abc. Nigerians are producers of snails. You can find buyers for your snails in markets, restaurants, cosmetic firms, or export snails to other countries.
Types of Snail Farming System
Snail farming systems can be intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive. Just in case you don’t know what these mean, we’re going to explain the three major types of snail farming business that we know of.
- Intensive Snail Farming System
The intensive method of snail farming is the most expensive system of snail farming. This includes keeping them confined to a place and restricting their movement. The farmer provides all the needs of the snails. In this method of snail farming, the farmer offers artificial lighting systems, humidity, feeding, and all the necessary things involved in keeping the snails active all year round.
- Semi-intensive Snail Farming System
In the semi-intensive farming system of snails, the farmer allows natural treatment for the snails like access to soil, leaves, etc., in a confined environment still.
However, this is left to the discretion of the farmer the time he should let them stay outside their confinement in natural habitat. The semi-extensive system is a combination of natural and artificial methods.
- Extensive System
The extensive system of snail farming is the kind of snail farming that has little or no restrictions to the snail habitat, feedings, and movement. They are primarily kept in gardens and allowed to feed on plants, leftovers, and edible leaves.
This is one of the cheapest snail farming systems and is practiced by many Nigerians who lack the means of engaging in sizeable commercial snail farming.
Problems of Snail Farming Business In Nigeria
Like I said earlier, snail farming isn’t easy. Even with a lot of money and experience, you may suffer a lot of losses before you see any profit as a snail farmer. With that said, here are some of the problems associated with snail farming in Nigeria,
1. Parasites and diseases
Some bacterial infections such as pseudomonas Aeruginosa, parasites like schistosomiasis and Fasciolosis, fungi disease like Fusarium spp, etc., constitute significant hindrances to the snail farming business in Nigeria.
This causes a reduction in the productivity of the snails, growth disorders, loss of tentacles, inactivity, thinned shells, loss of natural colors, etc. are all symptoms of disease infection in snail farming. This could pose a huge loss to the farmer.
The solution to this problem is ensuring your snails are fed with the proper nutritional content that will help boost their immunity and fight against the diseases that threaten them. Also, you can check with your veterinary doctor to recommend medicines to administer to your snails.
The ideal climatic conditions for snail farming in Nigeria include high levels of low humidity. Snails cannot survive in high and extreme temperatures. And most times, the sub-Saharan weather is hot.
This can pose a problem and setback to the prosperity of snail farms. Snails naturally prefer moist and excellent environments to increase activity. To conquer this threat, make sure the humidity in the snail farm is not lower than 70-90 degrees.
The cold atmosphere helps the snails reproduce faster and improves their chances of survival. Also, if you are practicing the extensive methods of the snail farm business, ensure that the soil is kept moist. However, if they are confined in a place, consistently sprinkle water to keep them cool.
3. Harsh Chemicals
The use of harsh chemicals on the soil like pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc. It can affect the PH of the earth, making it acidic, and snails cannot live in such an environment. The solution to this problem is testing the soil’s PH and neutralizing it contains too much acidic content.
Like every animal husbandry, snail farming requires feed to survive and reproduce. If you plan to farm in commercial quantities, be prepared to buy large meals because they feed a lot.
However, the good news is that you can supplement their diet with other foods like fruits, vegetables, and other leftovers. Snails have to be also treated in case of disease infestations. The venture requires money to start and maintain.
Well, if you have saved sufficiently, it won’t be so burdensome on you. There are also loans available in government and non-governmental institutions to help small and medium-scale businessmen, women, farmers, and entrepreneurs.
Snail farming can be difficult due to a constant visit by predators. Snails have predators eating their premature eggs or even attacking adult snails. These predators include lizards, birds, humans, rats, termites, ants, millipedes, centipedes, etc.
To deal with predators, ensure you use protective fences, barbed wire, planks, and plywood to barricade and shield them from these predators.
Cost of feeding: Anyone engaged in the snail farming business is aware that snails consume a lot of food/feed. The solution is supplementing their feed with other items containing low salt levels because salt is not healthy for snails.
Snails will feed on watermelon barks, peels from fruits, etc. One way to find fruits is going to fruit vendors popularly known as (Aboki) in local Nigerian parlance to give you the waste from watermelons and other fruits that have been sold out.
Also, you can reach out to restaurants to provide you with leftover foods, although some of them charge a small fee for the excess food.
Snail is one of the most nutritious foods, and it is recommended for our consumption. Many lounges, hotels, and eateries prepare special meals using snails.
This goes to show how much importance is attached to this mollusk. Snail farming is very lucrative because of these reasons, and it has been in existence for a long time. Farmers involved in the snail farming business are slowly cashing out, and you shouldn’t hesitate to also.
If you have the passion, then start immediately. You can consult an expert to guide you when creating your own snail farming business.