Snail farming is picking up the pace and is now one of the best lucrative businesses in Nigeria. As one who is into snail farming, you can rear it for consumption or sell them for profit.
Snail is very sweet and nutritious. It is a meat that is always in high demand in some homes, hotels, beer parlour, and joints. Therefore, the market is readily available if you are all about making money.
Although it is an agricultural business idea, anyone can venture into it on a part or full part basis. I have seen full-time workers still farming snails because it is very easy to maintain compared to most side hustles in Nigeria.
PROS AND OF SNAIL FARMING BUSINESS
Below are the pros (benefits)and cons of snails.
PROS OF SNAILS FOR CONSUMPTION OR SALES
- Snail farming is now in high demand in Nigeria and other parts of Africa like Ghana, Camerous, and Uganda.
- With just a few reared snails, you can reproduce thousands of snails for consumption or be sold.
- Snail has anti-cancer properties and could also boost the immune system when eating regularly.
- Snails have selenium, magnesium, fatty acids, calcium, and a rich source of vitamins E, A, K, and B12.
- It is also good for people who are avoiding obesity and other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc due to its low Cholesterol.
- Snail also contains Tryptophan which plays some vital roles in the human system such as regulation of sleep, appetite, impulse, and helps to calm the nerves.
- It also has high iron which will help improve blood count. Deficiency of iron in the body could cause several health issues like fatigue and anemia.
- Eating snails regularly could also help to ease and avoid serious cough. It also contains omega 3, a nutrient that helps with the proper functioning of the heart.
- The snail farming business is not capital intensive compared to most business ideas and opportunities in Nigeria.
- It is easy to feed snails and does not require snail farmers to spend much on foods.
CONS OF SNAILS FOR CONSUMPTION OR SALES
- It could take a while for the snail to grow, therefore you will need to be patient as they transform.
- Some religious sects may not even get close or eat snails because of the belief they hold unto.
- Snails can also destroy crops, therefore caution must be taken especially if you have some crops that you may likely want to keep. A well-built pen should keep them from escaping.
- The snail farming business may be disrupted by adverse weather, you must find a means to control them and bring it to normal.
- When you fail to focus your attention on even little details, the snail farming business could collapse which could lead to several losses.
- Land snails are not allowed to be eaten in Islam unless they are sea snails. This could be difficult to sell in most northern states in Nigeria.
WHERE TO GET SNAILS IN NIGERIA
Snails are now available in most markets in Nigeria at a price. You can also buy them from villagers who pick them in order to sell to those who need them.
However, if you are living close to farmlands, you will likely come across several snails which you get to keep for free. Entrepreneurs can also farm their own snails, which they can keep for family consumption and also sell as well, you can buy from them.
Not all snails are good to eat, you should only buy or farm snails when you are sure you know what they are used for. As a result, we will be suggesting some snails that you can rear in Nigeria.
Whatever you do, Never farm snails that you cannot buy or find in the market. Snails at the market may have been washed, hurt, or kept in a very cold environment, and may die soon.
HOW TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SNAIL FARMING
It takes a great deal of attention to know the names of all types of snails and their uses. Snail farming is different from when you rear sheep, cow, or hen. It is also not the same with crops.
There are various ways to learn about snail farming, but the most recommended way is to learn from those who are actually into snail farming. With their experience, they would be able to guide you.
COMMON TYPES OF SNAILS YOU CAN FARM
If you want to invest in snail farming, you should know about all different kinds of snails, especially the ones that can be eaten. Many snails that live on Lands can be eaten, and some will only make people sick. Therefore, you should only farm snails that will mostly command prices in the market. The first five species listed below are common in Nigeria, the other are just additions.
1. Helix Pomatia
Helix pomatia is mostly known as Roman Snail, is one the best and popular snails one can eat. Anything that can be consumed in Nigeria can give you a way to make money.
Helix Pomatia weighs from 11 to 15 grams with its measurement from 37 to 50 millimetres. It is pale brown and off-white in colour and has a strong shell to protect from any hostile attacks. It is hermaphroditic.
It can be found in a warm or cold location. The roman snail can get to its adult stage in 2 to 3 years if it is well taken care of and can also lay up to 60 eggs in each growing season. The life span of Helix Pomatia is about 30 to 35 years but could die if it experiences unfavourable conditions such as Dryness or freezing. However, in Nigeria freezing is not common because we only experience two major weather, hot and cold.
This is a good farming business idea one can invest in Nigeria because it has so much profit and for its ability to live long, giving you enough snails to convert to money.
2. Helix Aspersa
Of all the kinds of snail available in Nigeria and other countries, Helix Aspersa may be one of the most widely available and known. Helix Aspersa is otherwise known as Garden Snail. Helix aspersa is considered fine to eat.
This kind of snail can grow to full size within one year with a diameter of 16 to 20 mm and 26 to 33 mm the second year. Unlike Helix Pomatia, they only have a life span of 2 to 5 years.
The pulmonate snails are hermaphroditic, having female and male sexual organs are present, which means they all can reproduce.
It has a weak shell with broken stripes which can range from light brown to black and could lay 40 to 170 eggs one to three times each growing season. It can also be found in places where part of the year is warm and part of the year is cold.
3. Achatina Achatin
Achatina achatin is called by many names, they are Giant African snail, gigantocochlea, and giant tiger land snail. It is so big with a very strong brown shell and could rise to full size in two years if it is well taken care of.
The shells of these snails often grow to a length of 7.1 inches with a diameter of 9 centimetres 3.5 inches. This makes them the largest land snail species known, although Archachatina Marginata almost share the same size with this specie.
Like all pulmonate gastropods, these snails have male and female sex organs. Each snail lays up to 1200 eggs per year. Achatina Achatin can only be found in places where it is warm all year round.
4. Archachatina marginata
Archachatina marginata is also called giant West African snail or banana rasp snail. It is often found in places where it is warm all year round and has a very strong shell whose size can grow up to 21 cm in height and 13 cm in diameter.
It can grow to full size in two years if it is well fed and lay eggs from 20 to 80 eggs each growing season. Archachatina marginata can live up to 10 years because it has a strong shell to protect her from unfavorable conditions.
5. Common periwinkle
The common periwinkle, otherwise known as winkle or Littorina littorea, is an edible snail that can be eaten and classified within the family Littorinidae, the periwinkles.
It has a broad, strong, and sharply pointed shell with a height that can reach up to 52 mm and width from 10 to 12 mm at maturity.
It can grow to full size in two to three years if it is well fed and the lifespan of common periwinkles is about 5 to 20 years. It can be found in muddy habitats, which makes it one of the rarest snails in the world. Only those close to large rivers, where the tide meets the stream will be able to pick Common periwinkle from time to time.
The Female Common periwinkle can lay 10,000 to 100,000 eggs and eventually settle to the bottom. It is also a good investment in Nigeria.
6. Otala lactea
Otala lactea, not the most common snail species in Nigeria, but well known to the native of Europe and some parts of North Africa.
Otala lactea is also called the “vineyard snail,” or “milk snail,”. It is white in color but with reddish-brown spiral bands has a diameter of 26 to 35mm.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT SNAIL FARMING IN NIGERIA
A good place for snails to grow is a location where snails commonly live or appear, this way you will know the place is good for snails farming. Snails need the right environments to thrive, one that has the right kind of soil with the right kind of water in the soil.
However, just because there is no such place where you are does not mean you will be unable to go into snail farming. You just need to prepare such a place for them.
As you now know that soil is important for snails to survive, sometimes they live on the soil and sometimes in the soil. When snails are in the soil, they are either resting or laying eggs. If the soil is okay enough with the right amount of water, the eggs will survive and hatch well, but if not, it may get damaged as snails can’t survive under harsh conditions. Therefore, it can’t be too moist or dry as they need to dig through often.
Sometimes, they may choose to be on plants but the main point is you must provide a good place for them if you want to earn from snail farming in Nigeria. Sandy-loamy soil is the best soil for snail farming.
So, if you are going to farm snails, you must have a good medium soil that has neither too much clay nor too much sand. All snails will grow faster and have stronger shells when the soil contains the right amount of water and required calcium.
To know if a location will be okay for your snails to grow and reproduce, check if green leafy vegetables grow well. If it grows well, that place should become your farmland. However, if you are not able to get such a place, you can buy sandy loamy soil and have them richly spread on your farmland.
Another thing you should take into consideration is plants. Snails also need to feed, therefore plants are important and also for shelter. Still, most of them have their unique practice, some will use different kinds of plants for food and shelter at different times of the year. Sometimes during the growing season, they may eat and find shelter on the same plants.
During the growing season, snails will consume a lot of food plants which will result in rapid growth. When snails have nothing to eat, they dig into the soil to rest. To make them grow faster, always get them food plants when there are no plant foods.
It is difficult to know which of the food plants they like to eat, so you will need to monitor if they are in a location where there are several plants around. You will be able to tell when snails are feeding by the holes they make in the plants or leaves. Meanwhile, snails love lettuce, dandelion greens, apple leaves, beans, apricot, cucumbers, and carrots, etc, you can get those if you do not have them planted and then find out what your snails really love.
Another important thing to do is to study what plants they love for shelter, this can be watched during the day when they take their rest.
It is very important that food and shelter plants are wet and clean. It makes it very easy for the snails to eat and move easily, but when it is the opposite, they move slowly, eating becomes weak and they grow poorly if not dead.
STEPS TO STARTING A SNAIL FARM IN NIGERIA
1. Make A Decision On The Kind Of Snails You Want To Farm
The first step is to make a decision on what species of snail you want to rear. The decision is quite simple considering this is Nigeria, Africa. Go to the market, restaurant, hotel, or bar and look at the types of snail they purchase, this should help you make a decision on what snails to invest on.
Well in Nigeria and most African countries, Achatina Achatin, otherwise known as the Giant African snail is the best species to farm due to the fact that it has the ability to withstand pressure. The plus benefit is that a single African Giant Land Snails could produce between 1000 to 1200 eggs in a year which is good for the snail farming business.
2. Estimate The Total Cost Of Set Up
If you have already made up your mind about the species of snail to farm, then estimation would be very easy to put down.
Take into consideration the cost of a well-built pen, and the possibility of opening more pens as your snails increase. However, one pen is enough for a start. Also, How many snails do you want to begin with. If the place is not okay for snail rearing, then what is the cost of making it happen?
Take your time to figure it out before embarking on your snail farming project. Treat it like a business plan. This is very important if you want to have success in snail farming in Nigeria.
3. Choose A Safe Place To Put Your Snail Farm
Snails have several adversaries that may want to hurt them, it is better you have it close to your home. Among their enemies are thieves, mice, and rats, walking insects like ants and beetles, slugs, frogs, toads, and even snails that eat snails.
To protect them, you should build a secure pen. This will also make it easier for you to take care of them. A snail pen can be small or large depending on the quantity of the snails. When building your pen, you should use corrugated sheet metal or plastic sheets with woven plant material and chicken wire for maximum protection.
A pen built with corrugated sheet metal or plastic sheets makes the best pen for snails farming because it is sturdy enough to keep adversaries out. Still, It could increase your estimated cost because it costs lots of money.
However, if you are on low on budget and you are looking for an alternative, you can build a fence of woven plant material such as split bamboo. You should consider using woven plant material with chicken wire. If they are tight and solid enough, it should be a good alternative.
A good size for a pen can be 5 x 5 metres. If you are deciding to go with the size, 25 large snails should do or about 140 small snails.
Meanwhile, do not forget that you must use a sandy loamy soil and must have the required amount of water. Most importantly, the surface must be clean and free from sharp objects and soured foods.
4. Purchase Or Acquire Your Snails
Now that you have set up your farmland for snail rearing, the next step is to acquire or buy the snails.
When buying snails, ensure that they are of quality type because most snails may have been exposed to adverse conditions that may bar them from performing optimally. If you are unsure, you can decide against buying from the market, rather pick from farmlands.
Nevertheless, there are farmers in the market that know how well to take care of snails, they may be your best chance.
5. Plant Food And Shelter
When planning food and shelter for your snail, be sure you are only doing what is best for them if this is your first time. Invest your time on plants that grow well and last. Hopefully, your snails like them.
Before doing that, ensure the place is clean and damp enough for snails to thrive and reproduce. If you are unsure of how to go about it, have a chat with an experienced snail farmer.
The best food plants for snail include African spinach, papaya, and rape. Horse-radish, leaf beet, burdock, banana and loofah, Plantago, and asparagus can be used to shelter the snails and also for food. They also eat Cucumbers, Pepper, Mangoes, Mushrooms, dandelion greens, Carrot, Potatoes, Corn, Apples, Melons, Lettuce, and so on.
Snails farmers should avoid giving snails any foods that contain salts or sugar, acids, bread, pasta, snack foods, starchy foods, and foods that are hard for them to digest.
Snails only need to be fed once a day. After they have fed, you can remove the leftover if you think they will get spoiled.
6. Harvesting Of Snails
Endeavour to know everything about the species of snail you are rearing. We have already discussed to a large extent what you should know about Achatina Achatin.
Do not make a mistake of harvesting before they reach maturity, not business-wise if you ask me. Also, since you will need to keep the snail farming business going, you may need to keep some. If possible, you can sell the old ones while you keep the newly mature snails for reproduction.
7. Marketing And Selling Of The Snails
Marketing and selling snails in Nigeria should not be that difficult because most people love snails. There are lots of options but like a snail farmer who is willing to make sales quickly, you can direct your marketing to hotels, households, restaurants, or beer parlor.
However, if you want to make a better profit on your snails, you should export them to foreign customers.
WHAT IS THE COST OF STARTING A SNAIL FARMING?
I expect you to have figured it out before going on the project, you will need to consider all things already discussed in this article and also some miscellaneous expenses which might arise.
To start a snail farming, you do not need to invest much capital, depending on the scale you want to operate, you can start snail farming with a cash amount between 50,000 to N200,000. It all depends on how much you are willing to commit to the project. You can choose to invest even a million on the snail farming project.
However, there are still several online businesses with little or no capital in Nigeria, if snail farming is not for you.