Breeding snails is an interesting business idea with almost 100% profitability. It also has minimal investment requirements and low competition in Africa. Let's show you how beginners can start snail farming in Nigeria.
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The popularity of the snail farming business has been growing quickly in recent years because Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa are among the many other countries that consider snails a tasty, healthy, and exotic delicacy.
What is snail farming?
Heliciculture (snail farming) is breeding edible land snails for human or industrial consumption. People eat both snail meat and eggs (white caviar).
How to start snail farming in Nigeria
Snails are an idea for business because they are expensive delicacies. These creatures are also in making cosmetics. You might never do any other type of farming once you discover how to start snail farming at home. Below is a simple snail farming for beginners guide:
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1. Decide which species of snail to farm
The most preferred snail species in Nigeria are Achatina Fulica (the East African land snail), Achatina Achatina (the giant Ghana or tiger snail) and Archachatina Marginata (the giant West African snail). Achatina Achatina can lay up to 1,200 eggs yearly and is one of the largest snails in the world.
2. Decide the snail farming technology you want to use
There are many ways of rearing snails. The most common places people keep snails in Nigeria are:
- In a large room aquarium (it can be your garage).
- In plastic or wooded snaileries (a place where edible snails are bred) on the balcony.
- In a greenhouse.
- Outdoors on a farm.
3. Set up your snail breeding area
Growing snails for meat is not a complicated but demanding process. Therefore, breed a small number of snails if you are in an apartment. For breeding, you will need the following:
- 20 to 50 square meters of space (land, greenhouse, or room).
- Special terrariums for gastropods.
- Soil fertilizers (specifically for snail rearing).
- Twigs and leaves.
- Watering cans, pipes, or hoses.
- Hand trowel.
- Weighing scale (digital preferably).
4. Purchase your snails
Start with at least 800 adult species or a few dozen. You can collect them from the forest or bushes during the rainy season. The mollusk is a hermaphrodite (it has male and female reproductive abilities).
5. Feeding and rearing of the snails
You can grow up to 40 snails per square meter (indoors or outdoors). Some professional farmers use artificial snail feeds to increase the figure to 200 pcs on 1 square metre.
Maintain a normal temperature at the breeding area, clean snail waste every three days, and monitor the moisture in the soil. For farming outdoors, fence your 20 to 50 square meters of space to prevent snails from crawling away.
For those farming indoors or in a greenhouse, prepare a 10 inches deep soil base and keep it moist. Overcrowding your snailery impedes their development. A well-spaced snail house reduces the risk of disease outbreaks caused by overcrowding.
Snails are vegetarians. They feel soft things like cabbage, mango, cucumber, banana, pear, tomato, eggplant, paw-paw, okra leaves, cassava, pineapple, and lettuce. You can buy packaged snail feeds from your local market or plant weeds and leaves on the farm for snails to feed on.
Snails mate and lay eggs in spring and summer. Use fertile soil (rich in calcium and other nutrients that promote snail development), and maintain the right temperature and humidity to boost the egg-laying process.
Protect your brood against pests such as carnivorous beetles, birds, lizards, rats, and moles. Install the fence 30 cm deep into the ground and 70 cm above the ground (along the entire perimeter) to prevent rodents and other animals that feed on snails from entering your farm.
How to treat the soil for snail farming
Spray the soil with water for two days, then add the snails. You can also use hot boiling water to treat the soil for snail farming because the hot water will kill insect larvae and pathogens in the soil.
Predators of land snail
Vertebrate predators of snails are small mammals like shrews, mice, squirrels, salamanders, toads and turtles like thrushes, grouse, blackbirds, and wild turkeys also feed on snails. Keep your snails away from them.
How to harvest snails?
Harvest mature snails once a week in spring or autumn. The edge of the sole of a mature snail is firm (the snail stops growing after this). It is important to keep a few for breeding to continue.
Buy slate sheets for collecting the snails. After collecting them, keep the gastropods in the cage for seven days so that their digestive system removes the soil in their bodies.
Do not feed the snails or give them water and keep the temperature at +4 degrees. They can survive for two months under these conditions. Pack the shells into boxes or mesh bags and sell them as they are.
How to find a market for snails in Nigeria
Before you start to grow snails, you need to analyze and test sales in the market. All your efforts will be in vain if selling them at your local market cannot earn you enough profits. Some of the major markets for snail meat are:
- Supply snails to restaurants that prepare snails cuisines.
- Sell snails to institutions with snail meat dishes on their menus (e.g. high-end schools).
- Supply snails to events like weddings.
- Sell them to food companies that sell packaged frozen snails or snail dishes.
- Supply snails to companies that use them to make medications and beauty products/cosmetics.
- Export to European and Asian countries like China.
Benefits of snail farming in Nigeria
Snail farming has created employment opportunities and requires little land or space. Its other benefits are:
- Snail farming has low start-up capital and maintenance costs. Forty snails consume about 2 kg of snail feeds (a mixture of crushed corn, chalk, milk powder, and herbs).
- Snail meat and eggs are very profitable. Meat costs N1,800-N3,600 per 1 kg, while snail eggs can reach up to N7,000 per 100 g.
- Snail meat demand is high in the dry season.
- Snails are environment-friendly because neither the snails nor their droppings have an offensive smell.
- Snail is more nutritious than chicken meat, for it does not contain fat and cholesterol.
- Snail meat is natural Vi*gra since it has the properties of increasing potency.
- Snails are a rich source of proteins, iron, calcium, Vitamin A, and more minerals. Vitamin A boosts your immune system and strengthens your eyes.
- Snail manure improved the organic content of the soil.
- The snail mucin is important to a human's skin. It hydrates the skin and treats dry skin conditions.
- The snail mucin slows ageing and eliminates wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks.
- An integrated farming system is very feasible with snail production. You can do snail-banana-earthworm-rabbit-palm tree and plantain farming.
- Snail shells serve as calcium used for animal feeds.
- Snails have a low mortality rate because they can live up to 20 years.
Problems of snail farming in Nigeria
- Nigerian markets experience low snail meat demand during the rainy season. Most people handpick them from the forest because this is favourable weather for snails to come out of hiding.
- Snail farming is restricted to humid tropical forest zones, which offer constant temperatures, have high relative humidity, and do not experience dry seasons. The place should also have a fairly constant day/night rhythm throughout the year.
- If you are not in humid tropical forest zones, you should buy expensive artificial climate control technology for snail breeding.
- Snails require good management, for they become serious pests in agriculture and horticulture; if they escape to other farms or sections of your land, they should not be.
Is snail farming profitable?
Snail farming is 100% profitable. According to experts, Nigeria's snail farming sector is worth $12,000,000,000. Nigeria's annual snail consumption is about 450,000 tons, while annual demand is around 7.5 million kilograms. A medium-sized snail costs ₦250 – ₦600, depending on the size.
How do you start a snail farm?
You can start the business with N60,000 or N100,000, depending on how large you want your snail farm to be. The amount can yield 1,000,000 snails worth more than N5 million twice a year.
How many months does it take snails to grow?
Snails mature after 6 to 16 months, depending on the species, weather, and the availability of calcium. They can produce over 300 eggs at once, and the eggs take 14 to 30 days to hatch.
How long does snail farming take?
You don't have to rent large rooms or pieces of land for snail farming in Nigeria. Buy snaileries that fit your room, balcony, or piece of land and start cultivating snails. Keep them under normal room temperature, feed them with enough snail mixture, and protect them from predators.
Legit.ng shared various ways of making money in Nigeria without spending a dime. Getting money to finance a business idea is hard for most people, especially the youth.
You can start earning from multiple online jobs. For instance, post photos on Getty Images and other platforms that enable you to sell pictures. You can also play video games on sites that pay people to do this.