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Snail farming in Nigeria is an agribusiness that holds very good potential in countries such as Cameroon, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. Yet, it is one of the most ignored animal rearing businesses in these countries. The rearing of snails for personal or commercial purposes provides one with mouth-watering opportunities to make money within a short space of time.
The question remains: Why are Africans not fully engaged in this money making animal farming? The reason is lack of knowledge (ignorance).
Snail farming is big business in countries like Australia and USA, giving countless opportunities to the farmers. Do you also know that snails can be exported?
You can begin supplying snails to local shops and exporting them out of the country if you so wish.
Majority of people living in countries such as Nigeria and Ghana still hold on to the belief that snails can only be picked from bushes or forests. The ancient culture of going to the bush to pick snails in the villages during raining season or after the early morning dew has been in existence for generations. So, it has been difficult for people to agree to the fact that snail farming at home can be achieved.
Just like in many other areas of farming in many African nations, Africans are yet to discover the great money making potential in snail rearing business and that is why we silently and repeatedly suffer in hunger and poverty. We neglect where the money is (farming) and keep pursuing it where it is not, going from one city to the other in search for one substandard China made product after another to trade on. Labouring and wasting away in America and Europe in search of greener pastures when our own continent is already green.
Well, I have some good news for you: The good news is that by the time you are done consuming this article, you will be on better equipped with knowledge and ways to starting your own snail business in easy and simple steps. And we are backing it up with a Practical Snail eBook (it costs only NGN5000); a limited offer for those who can afford it.
Making ₦10,000,000 or more annually in snail business is a done deal if you do it well and get it right.
In this guide, I will try to be as comprehensive as I can in this article so that you can get going after reading it, and as people starts commenting – asking questions and adding what they know about snail farming, the information here would become 5X richer for everyone’s consumption.
Snail farming in Nigeria
What is a Snail?
Land snails belong to the class of Mollusca, Gastropod. The one popularly referred to as ‘Congo Meat ‘in many parts of Africa. Nigeria – Eju, Igbin (Yoruba tribe), etc… There are so many species of snails but the types we are looking at here are the ones that are suitable for commercial Snail Farming in Nigeria and in Africa.
Suitable Snail Species For Snail Farming
- Achatina Fulica– The East African land snail, otherwise known as a giant African land snail, with scientific name Achatina Fulica, belongs to the species of large, air-breathing land snails, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc in the family “Achatinidae”. It is the smallest in size among all the desirable species for rearing in Africa.
Achatina Fulica has a narrow, conical shell, which is twice as long as it is width and contains 7 to 9 whorls when fully grown. The shell is generally reddish-brown in colour with weak yellowish vertical markings but colouration varies with environmental conditions and diet. A light coffee colour is common. Adults of the species may grow above 20cm in shell length but generally with an average of about 5 to 10cm. The average weight of the snail is approximately 32 grams (Cooling 2005).
- Achatina Achatina– Achatina Achatina, with common name the giant Ghana snail, also known as the giant tiger land snail, also belongs to specie of very large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc in the family Achatinidae. Giant African land snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they possess both the female and male reproductive organs. Two snails are still needed for breeding, but they are very prolific (they breed hard and fast) breeders.
Similar to the other species in its family, Achatina achatina’s shell can attain a length of 200 mm and a maximum diameter of 100 mm. They usually possess between 7-8 whorls and the shell is often broadly ovate. The body of the animal is silver-brown in color although albino morphs may exist.
Related: How to start fish farming in Nigeria
- Archachatina Marginata– Archachatina Marginata, whose common name is the giant West African snail, is a species of air-breathing tropical land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc in the family Achatinidae. They can grow up to 20cm long, and live up to 10 years.
Among these three species, Achatina Achatina is the most desired breed for farmers because it grows very big to become the biggest snail species in the world. Achatina Achatina has its origin from Nigeria, before some were smuggled to Liberia and then Ghana.
Another reason for its massive popularity is because of its high yield capacity. The other species are very good but I will focus on Achatina Achatina and Archachatina Marginata in this blog post because, they are easy to find and breed in Nigeria.
Achatina-Achatina is very good for commercial farming as well, because of its profitability. Why? Because of the high volume of eggs it lays at each laying session. A single Achatina lays about 300 to 500 eggs at a time in clutches, three times a year. Therefore, if you start a farm with about 2000 snails, in one year you should be getting about 3 million snails going by the number of eggs they produce.
Haven decided on the specie; let’s take you through the step by step process on how to setup your snail farm in a small scale level and starts rearing your snail towards harvest with the sole aim of making more money for yourself.
- Snail Farming Environment – Because of their skins, snails are easily dehydrated (lose water from their body at a pretty fast rate), and wind increase the rate of moisture loss in snail which in turn, leads to the dryness of the animal. To prevent snails from losing water too quickly and to reduce mortality rate, your the snail house (snaileries) must be located in an environment that is protected from wind.
A quiet low plain, downhill site surrounded by enough trees to hold in moisture and reduce the wind current is very perfect for snail farming. You may decide to plant plantains, mango, pawpaw and bananas around your snail farm to prevent the impact of wind.
- Type of Soil for Snail Farming – The soil forms a habitat and a source of food for snails. It contains some essential components and chemical substances that the animal needs to survive. However, not all soils are suitable for snail rearing. The shell of the snail is mainly made up of calcium and most of its calcium elements are derived from the soil. Snails also lay their eggs on the soil and drink water out of the soil.
Hence, the selective choice of a soil that is suitable for snail farming must be considered as elements are very important if one truly wants to attain success in the business. The soil should be balanced, not waterlogged, not too dry, and must not be acidic (acid will hurt the snails skin and result in death or contamination). The most recommended soil for snail farming is sandy-loamy soil with low water holding capacity. Again, I repeat: clayey soil and acidic soil must be avoided.
- Getting the Sails for Farming– To start up a snail farm, it is usually advisable to get snails directly from the forest rather than buying from the market after which they must have been exposed to sunlight and their body dehydrated. This is because snails drink a lot of water, and are easily dehydrated; this stresses them out, and leads to low production of eggs ( in some cases, infertility).
The intending snail farmer could pick the snails from the bush with a very simple technique; During the rainy season, clear a little portion of land and sprinkle juicy fruits like pawpaw, plantain, cassava, water melon, banana etc. at about 5’oclock in the evening, when you go back there about 7pm or 8pm, you will pick up snails suitable for rearing. Repeat the procedure until you get enough quantity.
Enjoying snail farming in Nigeria? Continue reading
Another easy way to get good snails is to pick up snail eggs littered in the market place where it is sold and through a technique, check the fertility of the eggs, because some of them must have lost their increased hatching rate due to the exposure to sunlight. The eggs are later put inside a container containing wet sand and covered with cocoyam or pawpaw leaf. Between 21 to 28 days, the eggs would hatch into baby snails. You can then move on to feeding them and gradually you raise a snail farm.”
- The Snail House (Snaileries)– Snaileries can be made from materials that cannot harm your babies. They range from a patch of fence-protected ground, sheltered from the wind to a covered box if you are breeding in small scale.
For larger population of snails, you can dig a trench or make a concrete pen with a soil with a depth of 10 inches, and cover it with screen or wire or chicken mesh all around to prevent the snails from escaping.
Note: that snails can reproduce fast and become pests when their breeding is uncontrolled.
In their natural habitat, snails love dark and cold places. You can try to recreate this type of environment in your snail pens through the use of fresh leaves and planting consumable leaves and plant such as the dwarf pawpaw and watermelon but make sure the humidity level does not drop to a point harmful to your snails on your farm. To regulate the temperature, use fresh leaves and cloth that is regularly.
Additionally, the wire is useful in keeping away thieves, snakes and rats or other predators from eating the snails in your snail farm. But aside from these bigger predators, you should be on the watch for smaller ones like ants and termites (You can keep them away by drilling a gutter of about 5 inches around your pen and filling it with used engine oil). Anyway you construct your pen; it must have these predators in mind.
- Snail Foods and Feeding– Snails especially Achatina primarily prefer to feed on green leaves and fruits although they can consume other range of foods. To help their taste buds and speed up growth, you should feed your snail’s leaves, fruits, or even formula from the feed store. Aside from food to grow tissues, snails also need calcium to grow healthy shells.
Leaves: Okra leaves, cassava leaves, eggplant leaves, Cocoyam leaves, pawpaw leaves, cabbage and lettuce leaves.
Fruits: Pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, Mango, eggplant, oil palm fruits, pears and cucumber. Once they start growing, separate the big ones from the small ones to avoid cannibalism as the bigger ones often feed on shells of the smaller ones to grow theirs. It takes about a year or more for the Achatina type to grow to harvest size. Others mature in two years.
Two hundred thousand snails after a year or two sold at the rate of N50 each (a highly reduced price) will give you about N10 million! Isn’t that a good investment?
Harvesting – It is not economically wise to harvest your snails before they maturity, it has to be matured before harvesting. To know if your snails are already matured enough, check the brim of the shell. If it is matured enough, the brim should be thicker and harder than other parts of the shell.
Do not harvest all the matured snails at once for the market. It is important to keep few for breeding and to serve as base stock for your snail farm. Snail farming in Nigeria is an highly profitable business if done correctly.