There are two different kind of snails, the land snails (terrestrial pulmonate gastropod molluscs) and the sea snails (marine gastropod molluscs). While the both of them can be eaten, in this article we’ll be focusing more on the land snails, since that’s what many farmers go for.
The land snails can be found in almost every part of Earth, and have various uses. While the snails can be used as food items, their shells are also very important as they can be incorporated into jewellery.
In various tribes, the snails also posses some cultural significance as they are often referred to as patient.
Snails can also be a form of pest in gardens and farms, hence you will need to be careful while choosing a site for it.
Why Snail Farming?
So many Nigerians are realising the nutritional and health benefits of eating snails, hence the rush for more of it. Also, the market for it is still unsaturated, your target market can be hotels, restaurants and even individual buyers.
Even though snails might be repulsive to many, it is still widely consumed in many parts of the world because of its many health benefits.
The most consumed snail species include Otala Lactea, Helix Aspersa and Theba Pisana. Due to the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects of the species, they posses anti-cancer properties and also boost the human immune system.
How to start snail farming in Nigeria
Below are the basic steps you need to follow to start a profitable snail farming business in Nigeria:
Choose a specie of snail to farm
The first step in snail farming involves choosing the species of snails to farm. Some popular snail species include Otala Lactea, Helix Aspersa and Theba Pisana, but research has shown that the Achatina achatina are the best for warm climates like Africa.
Set up the farmland
The next step after making a choice of the specie to farm involves choosing the suitable farmland. Your snail housing should have enough space to allow the snails graze freely. Kindly note that overcrowding the snailery might affect the development of the snails. Also, a well-spaced snail housing will go a long way towards reducing the risk of disease outbreak caused by overcrowding.
Another thing to take note of while constructing the housing is the fact that snails are good at escaping. The snail housing should be constructed in a way that the snails won’t be able to crawl out on their own. You can go for a pen house that will be spacious and accessible with a soil depth of 10 inches and trees around it.
Purchase the snails
After choosing the best species for your farm and setting up the housing, the next step will involve buying the snails from the market. Always examine the snails to determine if they’re healthy before buying, and go for the fresh quality ones too.
Rearing of the snails
Snails are vegetarians and can be fed with wide varieties of foods like cucumber, cabbage, banana, mango, pear, eggplant, cassava, lettuce, tomato and even cassava leaves. You can also include fruits like banana, paw paw and pineapple to their regular foods.
Mating in snails typically occur during spring and summer. Snails are hermaphrodites and can fertilise each other as soon as they are mature enough. For the egg-laying, endeavour to use high-quality soil with the right temperature and humidity so they can go over smoothly.
Harvesting should be carried out on only matured snails. Also, avoid harvesting all the matured snails so the snails can breed while the others mature.
You can easily sell the the snails in the local markets, or supply to restaurants, fast foods or other places that might be needing it in high quantities. Alternatively, you can also export to the international market for more revenues.