snail rearing

Invest In Snail Farming and Get Huge Returns

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Photo credit: shalisha.com.

Snail is called different names in Africa, like — eju, nwa, ìgbín, katantanwa, wɔba, konokono, slak, mulaca. The snail is a small to medium sized ‘mollusc’ that is generally split into three groups which are land snails, sea snails and freshwater snails. Achatina species is a species of land snails that include Arhatina achatina (Tiger Snails), Archatina marginata (Giant African Land Snails) and Achatina fulica (Garden Snail) -which is the smallest of all.

The snails are hermaphrodites, (i.e. they have male and female parts) the individuals mate with each other before laying eggs. They are also coldblooded and can live for several years while growing to 25cm in some species. They have about 90 calories per 100 grams of weight and provide a low calorie source of protein which helps in building and repairing our muscle. They are also good sources of Iron, Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Selenium, and Omega3 -which is really good for the heart. Snails are environmentally friendly, they are most active during the night and they require low capital investment compared to poultry, pigs, goats, sheep, cattle.

Thinking of starting up?

Snail farming business has a very high rate of return and the best time to start up a snail farm is in the rainy season especially from July to October because that is the time snails normally start to breed. You should also note that prices of snails multiply during scarcity between March and December, in the dry season.  

Which is the most lucrative amongst the Achatina species?

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The Tiger Snails and Giant African Land Snails are the most lucrative amongst the Achatina species because they grow so big and lay more eggs. When thinking of getting a snail to start up with – that is the- initial breeding stock, you can decide to go for sexually mature snails, weighing at least 100-125 grams as recommended by Freeman (2013).

Note that each of this 2 species is capable of laying 100- 500 eggs in a year. This means that if you start a snail farm with 5 snails this year, you will probably get about 75,000 snails in one year! This is actually going by the number of eggs laid by the 5 snails, the percentage of eggs that are likely to hatch out, and the percentage that will survive after hatching.

Where can I get the snails?

You can get many snails from the forest, uncultivated lands and in the market.  They can also be picked up in the day time after a rainfall. Also, they can be found under wet boards and surfaces, piles of leaves and sticks, wet stones, walls, the trunk of trees.

The best time to get them from places other than the market is in the night. Don’t forget they are always active in the night. So, you can clear a little portion of land in the evening during the rainy season and place some fruits after which you leave the place. After about 3 – 4 hours you can go back to pick available snails. This process can be repeated till you get the number you want to start up with. When buying snail eggs from the market ensure it has not been exposed to sunlight, as exposure to sun has a negative effect on the fertility of the eggs.

How do I keep them safe?

When selecting an appropriate site for housing the snails, consider –climate, wind speed and direction, soil characteristics and protection of the snails from diseases and predators.

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Snails need damp, not wet, environments and they derive most of their water requirements from the soil. They love to dig the soil to lay their eggs.

A soil that supports good growth of cocoyam, tomatoes and leafy vegetables, is suitable for snail farming. Ensure to loosen the soil by tilling.

Snails are good at escaping from where they are kept, so, for a rewarding business venture, you should endeavor, to construct escape proof housing. You can use a pen house that will be spacious and accessible with a soil deep of 10inch, and trees around it. Snails can also be reared in boxes made of suitable substances like wire gauze (net), wood, straw etc.

In other to avoid flies and ants, the removal of leftover food and cleaning should be done appropriately, also endeavor to control predators and secure the pen with nets, wire and nylon mesh. Note that changing of the soil once every 3 months and allowing them to grow to reach their proper size and weight is also essential.

What should I feed them with?

They are vegetarians and can be fed with wide varieties of foods.  You can feed them with – leaves of lettuce, cabbage, cassava, okra and pawpaw – also fruits like cucumber, mango, banana, eggplant, pear, tomato and paw- paw. Banana, paw paw and pineapple peels can also be given to them. Snails can also be feed with leftover food like rice, fufu and pap but salt intake can make them sick or even kill them. So any leftover food you give them, should not contain salt!

Who will buy the snails?

The demand for supply of snail is very important; no one wants to run at a loss. People that will constantly need and demand for  your snails include; restaurants, pepper soup joints ,canteens, stores, supermarkets, event planners and caterers, shopping malls, institutions, hotels, friends and your darling family members. You can have an agreement with this people on when, amount and number of snails that should be supplied.

Snail business will definitely not give you quick money but in the long run you will be happy about your investment that will give huge returns. Now is indeed the time to start!

Article written by Idowu T. Owoeye

YAP OF THE MONTH MAY’2014-Gbenga Akinyele

EDITOR NOTE: Davies Okeowo sends this in from Ogun State where he interviews 16 year old Gbenga Akinyele who has picked interest in backyard farming. To be specific snail rearing. Gbenga’s experience is worth sharing. And thus we recognize him as our Young Agropreneur of the Month of May 2014

 

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Over the past few years, there has been a growing call for Africa’s youth to embrace agriculture. This is of great essence as the agricultural sector has been neglected by youths in favor of careers in the “booming” industries such as telecommunications and banking. A large number of African youths see agriculture as a “career for the aged”. Unknown to many, the agricultural sector is one of the most lucrative sectors in the global economy; one of the very few industries where demand overwhelms supply. Not only is the agricultural industry a massive one, it is also an indispensable one…hence, the call for more youths in agriculture.

In recent times, I have learnt a lot about agriculture. My biggest lesson though (which I gladly share with everyone I meet) is that agriculture is one of the few businesses you can start without capital. This is a major lesson, and I learnt it from 16 year old Gbenga Akinyele.

“Tell your son to come by my house today; i have some snails picked up for him”. I was quite startled when my mum made that remark while making a phone call. Who was the boy who needed snails? What does he need them for? Why snails? I definitely have to find out…and that’s exactly what I did.

I met Gbenga, had a chat with him and agreed to drop by his house to interview him. He was quite shy but he consented. On a Saturday morning I made my way to his house and to my amazement, I met Gbenga, his mum, and little brother clearing and cleaning their little farm and the environment. After exchanging greetings and a tour of the little farm, my curiosity took control.

 Can we meet you
Gbenga: My names are Akinyele Gbenga Timilehin. I am from a family of five, and the second born of my parents (first boy). Presently, I am a WAEC candidate for the 2014 May/June exam.

 I observe some ‘greens’ around your house; I can see a very small farm portion and a snail farm as well. How did all these come about?

Gbenga: It’s just a passion of mine, especially the snail farming. When I am less busy, the snails are the ones I devote my time to.

How and when did it all start?
Gbenga: It all started nine months ago when we moved to our own site. I always see the snails moving around the compound. So I and my brother decided to start picking them. From that point on, we started taking care of them.New Picture (1)

Having done this for about nine months, how has been the experience so far?
Gbenga: A bit stressful. Having to clean their (the snails) house, give them food, and the likes is tasking. Every morning you have to clean all over…it’s a lot of stress

 If it’s a lot of stress, why do you keep doing it?

Gbenga: I keep doing it because i have a passion for it.

 Can you put an estimate on the number of snails you have now?
Gbenga: I can’t tell they are quite much.

What do you plan to do with them?
Gbenga: When they grow big, I plan to sell them. There are some radio programs I listen to where people are taught on how to export snails; I have their phone numbers.

Have you sold any?
Gbenga: No, not yet

 Have you eaten any?

Gbenga: No, I have not

 Okay. I can see lots of tiny ones as well which i guess are the baby snails. How did you separate the adults from the young ones?
Gbenga: Early in the morning or late in the evening, the baby snails do come to the surface of the sand. From there, we handpick them all.

 Do your colleagues in school know that you do such a thing?
Gbenga: No they don’t

 What is your parents’ reaction to this venture of yours?
Gbenga: My mum supports me. She takes care of them when I am not at home. For instance, I wasn’t around yesterday so she helped me to clean and feed them.

 That’s amazing. You mean she didn’t scold you or try to stop you when you started?
Gbenga: Initially, she was neutral about it. However, when she saw how serious we were about snail farming, she tagged along.

Interesting. I can see some greens as well. What plants are these?
Gbenga: Basically vegetables of all sorts. Ewedu(Corchorus), Bitterleaf, and WaterleafNew Picture (3)

Did you plant them as well?
Gbenga: Yes, I did

 You obviously have a passion for snails. Are you passionate about vegetables too?

Gbenga: Actually, I just decided to plant them myself because most vegetables you eat these days are grown with the aid of fertilizers. I want to eat the fresh and natural ones, so that prompted me to plant them.

And have you been eating from them?
Gbenga: Yes, we have

How do you balance your schooling and farming?
Gbenga: My mum has taught me to manage my time properly through prioritizing. When it’s time to study, I study; when I am less busy, I take care of my snails.

So what are your future aspirations?
Gbenga: I intend to study nautical science in the university. Those that study nautical science end up in the maritime sector, working on ships.

So you want to be in the Navy?
Gbenga: i want to be a merchant navy. I want to be the captain of ships that import and export goods.

Okay then, i hope you become all you wish for, plus a very successful farmer
Gbenga: Thank you sir.

Gbenga’s story is one that every youth can learn from. His passion led him to farming and he did not have to raise capital to start. He is dedicated to what he does and manages his time well in between school and farming. At 16, he already has plans to export his produce, and is already feeding from his own efforts.

The value chain in agriculture is very wide and opportunities abound therefore, we as youths should tap into these huge opportunities. By so doing, we will not only build a financially rewarding career, but we will also be contributing immensely to the elimination of food shortages and related problems across the world; just like Gbenga Akinyele…one snail at a time.