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Snail Farming
Snail Farming

Snail Farming

If the words Archachatina marginata (ovum and Pfeiffer), Archachatina achatina and Limicolaria spp do not set any bells ringing in your head, I am very sure that the word “snail” would restore some order back into our conversations. Yes, you just guessed right. The above are the scientific names of some of the largest land snail species that you will find in the Nigerian market and our small friends have become something of a goldmine in the agricultural business sector. These slow creatures are not slow everywhere as they have the ability to make you some fast money if properly managed. What prospects do snail farm hold for you then? With an ever increasing need for snails in restaurants, bars and relaxation spots, the African culture (and bringing it closer to home, the Nigerian culture) largely supports meals made of snails. From the Edikang Ikong of the Igbo people to the basic Efo Elegusi that a Yoruba lady would cook, even pepper soup enthusiasts have started to opt for snails in their spicy delicacy now. So much has snail as a food item gained much acceptance that it even has some specially dedicated recipes to serve customer’s cravings, one of these being the Peppered snail recipe. Nigeria easily holds a population of more than 160 million people and countless thousands of other restaurants that are starting to fully embrace snails in their menu. Being a good source of protein, it is easily loved by all and sundry and markets are also perfectly set-up in such a way that would favour the sales of the slow creatures. Not to mention is that snail rearing is really not capital intensive at all and with the right tools, you wont need to pay through your nose before you can set up shop and start business in the first place. Snails are not only for the Nigerian market though as they even provide you with foreign exchange. You read that right. Snails are being exported to other countries in large quantities on a daily and millions of naira is made on this business alone. Your business is also very likely to be backed by medical aspects because of the high nutritional value that snails bring to the food plate as they contain magnesium, zinc, iron and other needed nutrients in the body. Starting to rear these creatures for commercial purposes usually requires next to nothing if you know what you are doing and in a short while, you could also join the millionaires’ club. What do you need to do to become a snail farm entrepreneur then?

1. Location, Location, Location. As with any other agricultural enterprise,getting a great locationfor your snails is paramount. It is recommended by experts in the business to site your snail farm on a downhill site. Low plains also provide the perfect environment to successfully raise your snails. For the weather specifications,it is required that your location is not to windy as thisteds to dehydrate snails. Wind breakers such as trees (especially banana trees) are advised om the area where your snails are being reared. Also, you need to take note of the soil pH and avoid its acidity or alkalinity. On no occasion should you rear your snails on cemented floors. The soil should be kept neutral at all times and should neither be to dry nor waterlogged. In this situation, a sandy loamy soil would do.

2. Get Knowledge on snails. No offence meant, but you cannot expect to go very far in the business if you have not learnt the basics. Take a short course if need be, attend seminars and workshops and read extensively on snails. No knowledge gained this way is wasted.

3. Feasibility studies. To better prepare your business to meet the current market conditions and needs, you would need to conduct a feasibility study on snail rearing. Of the things that would be required that you consider while carrying out this study are the capital required for the project, the market and demand curve for snails in diverse places, the amount of years before you start getting a reasonable return on investment and so on. This would easily answer most of the question that you would have as a start-up.

4. Draw a business plan Now that you have enough knowledge n what you are getting into, it is just the right time to start taking action. Prepare a very detailed business plan that would show the mode of operation of your business, your capital, your possible investors and then, highlight your markets. The importance of business plan is that it serves as a guide for you throughout your business season and if need be, would be the first point of contact when you are going back to the drawing board. In short, it is the pillar on which your business is erected on.With a good business plan, you would not only be making business easy for you but finding it easier to secure grants and loans from banks ad government alike.

5. Getting snails It is a snail business so by implication, you would need some snails to start. The best and fastest way of starting snail business is getting your own fresh supply from the bushes. These ones are still in prime condition and mean great success of your business. If you don’t want to take this approach, buy snail eggs and keep them in crates covered up with leaves. Within 21-28 days, your baby snails would have hatched and you can start feeding them. This takes us to the next step.

6. What to feed your snails? Snails have a large appetite for a very wide variety of foods (fruits and leaves) and this would work more to your advantage as they are things that could be sourced locally. Include cocoyam leaves, cabbages, lettuce, pawpaw, banana, mango, tomatoes, pears and okra leaves in your snail food and watch them gobble everything up happily. You can easily get these materials yourself and you need not spend a dime on food. Saving on feeding costs already, aren’t we?

7. Harvesting the snails After successfully feeding and taking good care of your snails for a good while, you would also start to noticedrasticchanges in their size and at one point, they would reach market standards. It is at this point that would need to start picking those big ones into containers to take to the sales point. Harvest your snails into clean, big and spacious containers to avoid overcrowding. For the perfect set per container, a weight of 10kg in each is about enough. You have done so much trouble already and you dot want to start getting the snails injured or stressed up now.

8. Marketing This is the most interesting part of rearing snails because at this point, you would start making all those cash that we promised you would at the beginning of this post. With the right connections, you could be selling directly to bars, restaurants, hotels and the likes that have snail delicacies on menu or to the market people who would purchase in large quantities from you. Either way, the profits you will realise will rest solely on how well you have raised your snails and your negotiation skills. Rest back now and enjoy the fruits of your labour.