How to start and make money from snail farming in Nigeria
Are you thinking of starting a snail farming business but just don’t know how? If yes is your answer, then you are welcome, because here, you will be guided step by step, from beginning to the end on how you can start, run and make maximum profit from snail farming.
Snail farming has proved over time to be a goldmine for a steady stream of income generated.
Though underrated by many, agriculture has numerous rarely tapped opportunities that young entrepreneurs can explore, one of which is “Snail farming” (aka Heliciculture).
Snail farming has become one of the most profitable agribusiness ideas one should confidently invest in, even though it is still rarely explored, those who are in the business have nothing but testimonies to give. Snail rearing has become a major income generating source and therefore cannot ignored anymore.
The good news is that young farmers and entrepreneurs only need little capital and space to start up this business. Wonderful right?
Here, you will not only be exposed to the unexplored wealth in snail farming business, but you will also get all the basic information you need to start and run successful your snail farm.
How to manage your farm, minimize expenses and make a maximum profit within the shortest space of time.
You will also learn how to minimize risk and how to market and sell your snail products because the market determines your success in snail farming just like other business.
Before we go into the “How you can start and run successful your snail farming”,
Let’s look at the reason why you should invest in snail farming
Why snail farming
Here are reasons why you should invest in snail farming
Snails are highly prolific
Did you know that?
A single snail can lay over 100 eggs (from 100 to 250 eggs) and can do these two (2) times or more in a year.
Let’s assume you started your snail farm with 50 snails, and they mature, lay eggs and the eggs hatched well, you will end up with nothing less than over five thousand snails in your farm, this is just from one batch of egg-laying.
Remember, they lay even more than twice a year.
With the high prolific nature of snails, you can easily expand your farm within a short period.
It requires little capital
Snail farming is not capital intensive, you can start with as little as #5,000.00 ($12) and run your farm successfully, one thing is certain, for every pocket size, snail farming can accommodate.
You can start with used and disposed tyres and can even go the length of getting your snails from the bush if you don’t want to buy from the market.
Snails mature quickly
Snails are capable of growing to maturity within five (5) to eight (8) months after hatching (birth) depending on how they are managed; this makes it possible for a rapid expansion of your farm.
This is one advantage of snail farming; the rapid rate with which your farm can expand is sometimes unimaginable.
Snails consume a wide variety of food
Unlike in poultry, piggery or sheep, Snails consume a wide variety of food ranging from leaves, fruits, flowers, which are readily available in the market and beside you, so you can get their food anywhere and anytime, you don’t even have to spend to do so, you only need to make out time for your snail food.
Did I we also tell you that they don’t eat all the time (unlike poultry), you don’t necessarily require daily feeding. Snails record high productivity on a once or twice in three days feeding systems.
The food should be rich in calcium and the soils in the pen, moderately moist, that’s all you need to do for the snail in their food.
Selling your snails is easy
There is little or no challenge in marketing and selling your snails as they can be sold in every local and urban market.
Marketing and selling of snail are easy, it can be sold in the local market or processed for exportation.
Snail Farming is less stressful
Rearing snail is less time consuming and stress-free when compared with other livestock. Snails demand little or no time from the farmer, you can operate a daily evening visit to your farm or once in two days if you so desire.
Increasing demand for snail in the market
The demand for snail in Nigeria and Africa is largely increasing, it has grossly surpassed the supply of snail and its product in the market, making snails more expensive than it used to be, Snails have become a major diet in many African homes, yet mostly unaffordable due to its scarce nature.
Currently, there are over 14 million annual demands for snail in Africa alone with an increasing export demand of snail, added to the demand for snail being higher than the supply of snail in the current market both locally and internationally, snail farming is indeed lucrative.
Snail farming is very lucrative and will remain, as long as its products still serve numerous production purposes and satisfy human demand.
So, how can one start and run successful his/her snail farm?
Before we go into “How you can start and run successful your own snail farming business”,
Here are the characters of snails and the advantages of snail rearing.
Snail farming popularly known as Heliciculture and is the act and process of rearing, keeping, and growing snails for commercial or subsistence purposes.
Scientifically, snails are members of the Gastropoda class and are therefore known for their slow nature. Snails are known as “Congo meat” in some part of Africa.
Snails are nocturnal animals; they are covered by their shell, snails retreat completely into this shell once it notices any danger or feels threatened.
Snails have a mouth but no teeth, their mouth is made up of rows of chitin used to break and scrape food.
Snails have no backbone and therefore are invertebrates, they love a moist environment and so, can’t survive the dry or hot environment.
They reproduce by laying eggs, which they do not contribute to its hatching, they lay and cover their eggs with soil, snail eggs hatch mostly 21 days after incubation.
Snails hibernate during the colder months and estivate during summer/hot months
Snails live long; they can stay for over 15 years in confinement. Snails excrete mucus during movement which makes movement easy.
Advantages of Snail Farming
Here are the advantages of snail farming
Nutritional benefits of snails
- Snail meat is rich in protein, which is used to build the body and repair the dead cells in the body.
- Low calories: Another benefit of eating a snail is that it contains low calories, it contains no carbohydrate, the snail is sugar and fat-free, food with low-calorie food helps to maintain weight for healthy living
- Vitamins and minerals: Eating is good for the body no matter your age, snail contains a large amount of vitamin such as Iron which helps to produce blood, potassium, and helps to provide zinc for the body.
- Prevent stroke: Snail water or the snail meat does not only prevent stroke, but is used to treat stroke, eating snails and drinking its water is healthy because it contains active substances that relax the brain and contains a chemical which repairs the broken cells which occur due to stroke.
- Snail contains phosphorus ,which is essential to the body nourishment.
- A single snail can lay over 100 eggs at once and can do this more than three times a year.
- Snail meat is very low in fat: either the snail or the water that comes out of the snail body does not contain fat, if you are the type of person that doesn’t want to get fat, then avoid fatty meat and eat more snails.
- It contains magnesium, which is good for the maintenance of normal blood pressure, strengthening of bones and helps you to regulate heartbeat.
- Snail meat prevents cardio diseases: one of the most important health benefits of eating snails meat or drinking its’ water is that it reduces blood pressure and it’s also very effective in reducing heart-related diseases such as hypertension, cardiac arrest, stroke, high blood pressure and many more.
- Snails contain Omega 3, which is good for the heart and brain health.
Other benefits are;
- Snails are highly prolific, this can be attributed to snails being hermaphroditic, having both male and female reproductive organs in both the male and female.
- Snail farming is not tasking demanding.
- Snail provides more options for meat consumers in the country.
- Running and managing a snail farm is very cost conservative. You can start and run your farm with little capital.
- Every part of the snail is sellable including the shells.
- They are eco-friendly
- Snails consume a wide variety of food, thus they do at a very low rate, sourcing for their food is time-consuming neither is it money consuming.
- The risk of losses is very minimal when compared with other livestock.
- Snail meat cures whooping cough.
- Snail meat can cure ulcers.
- You can use Snail to treat poor eyesight etc.
- Snail farming can be done by anyone at any place and time. It does not select gender or age, place or time. Its eco-friendly therefore can be done anywhere.
- Snail farming is not time-consuming neither does it select region or religion.
There are many other advantages of snail farming, but let’s limit ourselves to the above listed.
So, “How can you start and run successful your own snail farming business”,
To rear snails, one needs a place to keep his/her snails, source of food for the snail, understanding of different snail management practices (such as how to incubate the snail eggs, how to feed snails etc.),
Note: The snail farming methods, systems, care or pattern of farming, and ideas discussed here can be applied anywhere in the world, your location could be different, but the procedures are the same.
We will discuss how you can start and manage your snail farm in 3 different stages; each stage will be explained in details for easy understanding, we will explain some stages with pictures and other important materials where necessary.
How to start a snail farming business
Planning and Preparatory stage
There are many different steps involved in the planning and preparatory stage, which enlist the track to follow in setting up your farm, the very first step in starting a snail farm (under the planning and preparatory stage) is “Planning and Determining the type and size of your farm”
Design your farm plan
This step, though mostly ignored by many farmers, yes can be pardoned if ignored in Subsistence farming system, but in a commercial farm setting, this should not be ignored.
Here you determine the type of farm you want to run, how big you want your farm to be, the size depends solely on the amount you have at your disposal. A good plan is like a director, it leads you to your destination.
The second step of action you will take is to “Studying your environment “.
Study your environment
This can also be called a preparatory survey; it’s aimed at understanding what the people’s view is about the snail, their level of demand for snail and its products.
It is not advisable to set up your snail farm in an environment where snail farming is forbidden unless a cost favorable means of transporting the snails to where they are needed is available; this is because, no matter what you produce and how great your products are, the market determines your success.
Understand the market demand
Understanding your environment will help you predict what the market demand will look like. Consider the market situation.
- Is the demand for snail high?
- Are there other means of selling your products except for the local market?
- What is the price in the market like?
This will help you understand what will happen when you finally start producing your snails.
Once you are done with this step and it appears favorable, you can go ahead with your farm.
The next step you should take it to choose a good site for your snail, it is important to note that not all sites or areas/places are good for snail rearing, below is why.
Choose a good site for your snail farm
Snails don’t perform well in a harsh weather condition neither do they perform well in an extremely cold condition.
Here are the two main factors to consider when choosing your site
- Weather condition: this is important because of the nature of snail. They need a moderately moist environment to produce well.
- Topography: the shape of the land is important to the wellbeing for your farm, a flat level land is suitable. Sloppy lands make it hard to manage your farm.
With a good site selected, the next step is to prepare a house for your snail, this brings us to the second stage of the three snail farming stages
In this stage, we will focus on what you do in your snail farm as a snail farmer, the day to day activities, management practices and care of snails.
How to construct a snail house
For a small-scale snail farming, you can use old tyres, small boxes called pen but, if you have a bigger space, you can construct a bigger pen, Snail loves the dark and cool environment.
To learn more on how to construct your own snail house, click the link below.
After constructing your snail house, you need to get the pens ready before introducing your snails, prepare the pen for the snails’ comfortability.
How to prepare a snail rearing environment
Snails don’t thrive in open places, you only see snails in a cool environment, that is the nature of snail. When constructing your snail pen (Snail house), you must consider this factor.
The floor of your pen should be filled with sand before introducing the snails, snail gets more quality of calcium from the soil than from what it consumes. Lays its eggs in the soil and drink water from there too.
The suitable soil for snail rearing is sandy-loamy soil with low water-holding capacity. The soil must be moderately moist at all time.
It is advisable to provide sheds and mulch your pen after introducing your snail. You can use fresh leaves to mulch your pen to regulate the temperature. You should be wary about smaller insects like ants and termites.
The area can be fumigated to prevent insect attack. Condemned engine oil can also be used to make demarcation with the oil going around the snail pen.
Note: Avoid Clay soil or any Acidic and Salty soil.
How to source for snail
Once done with your snail house, sourcing for your snail is your next line of action. Sourcing for your snail is very important because the source of your snail will determine the productivity at the end of the day.
When sourcing your snail, you wouldn’t want to buy from the market, reason; you don’t know how long these snails have been with the owner.
The best environment to get your snail is naturally from the bush, from a farmer who is reselling it or from a trusted agent, farmer, or an established snail business owner.
How to pick snails from the bush
Clear a little portion of land during raining season in the bush (mostly mini forested areas with very cool temperatures) and spray sweet fruits like Pineapple, Pawpaw, Plantain, Banana, etc.
You are likely to pick Snails suitable for rearing. Continue going there until you get enough quantity for rearing. Here are the species of snails to look out for when sourcing for your snails.
Best Snail species of snail for Snail Farming
The Giant African Land snails are the best and most common species found in Africa, it comprises of the Achatina Achatina, Achatina Fulica and Achatina Marginata.
They are the best for farming, they have a higher reproductive rate and performs better at growth and productivity.
- The Achatina Fulica
This specie of snail is the smallest among the three. It is reddish-brown in colors and has weak yellowish vertical markings. This color depends on the environment and diet.
- Achatina Achatina
This Specie is popularly called the giant Ghana Snail. It is also known as the giant tiger land snail.
The good thing about this species is that it is a very profit breeder. This is the best for snail farmers because it has a higher-yielding capacity.
Feeding in Snail
What do snails feed?
Snail feed on green leaves, fruits, vegetables, flowers, tubers and can utilize other ranges of foods. Snails need calcium to grow shells, therefore, Calcium should be provided, it can be gotten from eggshells or bought in the market.
Leaves like: Cocoyam leaves, Pawpaw leaves, Cassava leaves, eggplant leaves, cabbage cucumber leaves.
Fruits like: Tomatoes, Pears and Oil Palm fruit, Cucumber. While growing, Mango, eggPlant, and pawpaw are all snail food.
Snails also eat tuber crops like yam, cocoyam, and sweet potato.
Agric by-products like corn by-products, soybean, palm kernel cake, peel of plantain, banana, fresh maize chaff.
Click here for more on snail food.
How to feed snails to grow fast?
Concentrated feeding and regular supply of calcium-containing food materials are a good way to grow snails fast, proper feeding and good maintenance culture are major players too.
The pen should be made moist and mulched regularly, insect invasion should be checked as well and soil treated.
When fed well, snails grow fast and this, in turn, leads to faster expansion of your farm.
Growth in snail
Growth in snail is a gradual process that involves its whole-body part, the shell grows with the snail and becomes thicker with the tentacles longer. The older they become they thicker the shell.
Snail reaches the reproductive stage within 4-7months of breeding, after which they will be able to mate and lay eggs.
Reproduction in Snail
Snails are hermaphrodites having male and female reproductive organs. The possession of the different reproductive organs does not mean that it does not need any other snail for it to reproduce.
They usually do not create offspring on their own. They mate with another snail, and then both lay eggs.
How does snails’ mate?
Some snails act as male one season and in another season as females and fertilize each other simultaneously.
For Snail to reproduce, two snails are still needed, they mate in what always looks like a fight, mating of-snails occur only when they become mature or adult enough, after which both start to lay eggs.
Egg-laying in snail farming
Snail lay eggs in their pen and cover them with soil, hatching (breaking of softened snail eggshell for the birth of a new snail) takes place twenty-one (21) to thirty (30) days after incubation (covering of snail eggs to soften the egg for hatching). Growth and maturity start after the eggs have been hatched.
How long does it take for Snail to mature?
Snail matures from six (6) to eight (8) months of breeding when managed and maintained very well.
Harvesting of snails?
“When is snail good for harvesting” is a regular question in snail farming, It is not advisable to harvest your snails before they reach maturity. When mature, the brim of a snail becomes thicker and harder than other parts of the shell.
Do not harvest all the mature snails at once for marketing. You should try to keep a few to stock your snail farm for the continuity of your farm.
Snail farming in Nigeria
Snail farming, unfortunately, hasn’t been explored much in Nigeria, the opportunities are there but maybe lack of accurate information and support, Nigeria isn’t doing well in terms of snail farming.
Snails happen to be a daily delicacy in Nigeria but yet very scare and even when seen, it is expensive, the very few snails reared in Nigeria are found among rural farmers who handpicked them and have decided to keep them.
Young farmers and entrepreneurs are encouraged to invest in snail farming because of what you have read in the above, it is profitable, one can easily start and manage it, it is not stressful and at the same time, it isn’t money consuming.
You can start little and expand as your farm grows. It is not advisable to start on a big note unless you have the required resources to manage it.
You need workers if you must engage in large scale snail farming, but we advise you to start on a small note and grow with time. Your capacity, what you can manage and your target determine how big or small your farm should be.
Here are some of the major snail farming kit, you will need for your protection on the farm.
Snail farming kit
A farmer is expected to be on the full kit on any visit to his farm, while this is not so for many farmers, it is advisable for the safety of the farmer.
Snail farming kit includes boot for foot protection, overall dress, gloves, head, and nose protective cover.
This brings us to the last stage, which is stage three “marketing and profit-making in snail farming business”.
Snail farming for profit
To make a profit in snail farming, especially in ,a commercial farming system, one must first, get his/her strategies right, understand snail, its nature, behaviour and how they adapt to their environment.
What determines success or failure in a venture are all embedded in what strategic steps you take as a business owner.
Keep a good record of your farm activities
This is a helpful farming habit. It helps to study your market and the performance of your farm, it detects areas of adjustment, a farm record plays a key role in decision making.
Marketing and selling your snails
Intending snail farmers always ask what are the market opportunities for snail farming in Africa?
The snail is generally scarce, during the dry season, snails are scare leading to the market being starved of an adequate supply of snail and its product until the next wet season.
Even in wet seasons, the supply is not enough due to very little number of snail farmers.
As a consequence, snails can fetch much higher prices during the dry season (December to March) when supply often does not keep up with demand.
Sails may go on break during the dry seasons, but the human appetite for its taste always retains and continues to grow throughout the year.
Due to the steadily growing demand for snail, it makes a lot of sense to take maximum advantage of this market when the supply of snails is significantly short.
Mistakes Snail Farmers Make and how to avoid them
Here are costly mistakes snail farmers make and what you must do to get it right.
- Less care about knowledge: Acquire the knowledge first, it’s wrong to start an agribusiness without learning such business all because they seem easy, training or research will be helpful.
- One of those clear mistakes is lack of planning, have a good plan, it leads the way for your success.
- Keep a record of your activities, it helps in guiding your decision.
- Understand the market system, how you can supply, the ease of supplying, whom to sell to, and where to sell.
- Lack of hygiene. You simply have to keep your pens neat.
- Always make consultations if the need arises, ask those who started before you. You can get answers both online and offline.
- Keeping a record of your on and off-farm activates as long as it concerns your snail farm. Record keeping is the pillar of decision making in business.
Some Snail Facts and Information
- The price of snail is higher during the dry season due to the scarce nature of snail in this period; wise farmers make more sales during this period and sell less during the rainy season.
- Snails leave behind a trail of mucus when moving; the mucus acts as a lubricant which reduces friction against the surface of the soil where they pass.
- Most snails live for about 5-6 years. While, some, especially those in captivity can stay up to 15-25 years, worthy of note is that the life sperm of any snail depends on their habitat, the management system, and the specie.
- Snails hibernate during the colder time in the rainy season covering their bodies with mucus, to prevent dryness. This is one reason why they survive for years.
- Snails don’t like the sunlight, which is why you find them out more on cloudy days.
- Never put salt on snails else they will die.
- Snails have two tentacles, which are the upper and the lower one. The upper one carries the eyes, whereas the lower one has the olfactory organs, but, they do not have ears.
Note: Never allow salt close to your snail house. It causes the death of snail.
Click here to learn “how to construct your Snail House with little capital”
Conclusively, snail farming is certainly profitable, to farm snail, you need to understand how the snail responds to its environment, start on a small-scale level, and add as your farm grows.
Snail farming is easy, the tricks to making a good profit is simple and easy to put into practice as well. It’s almost risk-free as they hardly record mortality unless when not managed well.
Never hesitate to talk to other farmers whenever you notice any abnormal changes in your farm. You can join snail farming groups online.
Will you be investing in snail farming? How confident are you now about snail farming? Let us know in the comment box below.
Special thanks to Daniel Nwefia
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