This article is about how to start snail farming business in Nigeria this 2021. Snail rearing in the country is a very profitable business venture that can net people millions of Naira annually if properly done. It is one agricultural business that many people are yet to fully tap into. If you will like to own a snail farm and you do not know how to go about it, in this post, we have given a detailed guide on what you should do in order to start up yours as soon as possible.
Snail farming, which is also known as heliculture, is the process of rearing or raising snails specifically for consumption, or for their slime which is very useful in the cosmetics industry; their eggs; or for other economic uses. Despite the potential for making a fortune out of this business, not many people in the country are involved in it. Only very few individuals are smiling to the bank straight from their snail farm and this is surprising if you consider the fact that snail farming business is a very lucrative venture with enormous benefits and huge market potential.
There are a number of snail species to choose from if you want to start your snail farming business in Nigeria but you should be aware that Achatina achatina, also known as the giant African snail or the giant tiger land snail; and Archachatina marginata, known as the giant West African snail or the banana rasp snail are the two species of air-breathing tropical land snail that are commonly reared in the country. These snail species are terrestrial, belonging to the family Achatinidae which can grow up to 20 cm long, and live up to 10 years.
Snails are very healthy sources of protein, phosphorus, calcium and iron, and they are low in fats, sodium and cholesterol, making them very safe for consumption. The best time to start up your snail farming business in Nigeria is during the rainy season from mid-June to October because this is the period when snails normally start to breed. You should also note that prices of snails multiply during scarcity between December and March, which is the dry season. This tells you that as a snail farmer, you can even make more money during the dry season. With that in mind, let us now look at the steps involved in starting your snail business in the country today.
SNAIL FARMING BUSINESS IN NIGERIA: GUIDELINES ON HOW TO START
These are the step by step processes on how to start snail farming business in Nigeria this 2021:
DECIDE ON THE SPECIES OF SNAIL TO FARM
When you want to start snail farming business in Nigeria, the first thing to do is to decide on the species of snail to rear. In Nigeria today, as we have discussed earlier in the article, there are different breeds of snail and some of them include the following: Otala lacteal (milk snail), Theba pisana (white garden snail), Cornu aspersum (garden snail), Helix pomatia (Burgundy snail), and the most popular ones which are Achatina achatina (giant African snail) and Archachatina marginata (West African giant snail). The giant African snail and the giant West African snail are the best species for heliculture due to their productivity and economic size.
PREPARE YOUR SNAIL FARM FOR HOUSING
The size of your snail farmland will determine the style and type of housing you will construct for your snails. The housing to be constructed will also determine the comfort of the snails you wish to rear. If you want to go into commercial snail farming, it is advisable that you purchase a permanent farmland. That said, snails can also be reared in boxes made of suitable substances like wire gauze and woods. The type of snail housing you will construct will depend on the stage of development of the snails and their habits.
Kindly be informed that younger snails would require more comfortable housing, which should be protected in order to prevent predators. You should also note that snails do very well in dark and humid places so try as much as possible to shield them from direct sunlight or heat. You can use fresh leaves and cloth to regulate the temperature. Snails are easily dehydrated, and wind increases the rate of moisture loss in snail housing, which leads to dryness for them. If you want to prevent snails from losing water quickly, you should house them in an environment that is protected from the wind.
PURCHASE YOUR SNAILS FOR FARMING
After setting up the housing for your snails on the farmland you wish to rear them, you will need to purchase the species of snails that are best fit for your business and we have made that known earlier in the article. Make sure to take proper look at the snails you’re purchasing before buying them and taking them to your farm for rearing, and check to know if they’re healthy enough. You will need to buy full grown snails so they can lay as many eggs as possible so check properly for them at the market before purchasing them.
FEEDING AND REARING THE SNAILS
Snails should be fed early in the morning and later in the night. Do not forget to provide them with drinking water. You can feed your snails fruits and vegetables such as banana, watermelon, cabbage, carrot, pawpaw, lettuce, cucumber, potato, pumpkin, plantain, to mention but a few. Snails also feed on green leaves and human crumbs that have no salt, so you must endeavour to provide them with these essential feeds. They also require calcium to grow their shells, hence the need to incorporate egg shells and limestone into their feeds.
You can as well regularly feed your snails some water leaves, cocoyam, pawpaw, okra, cassava, eggplant, cabbage, lettuce and banana leaves, as well as leftovers at home such as rice, beans, pap, corn, staples, and others without salt. Make sure that enough calcium is incorporated in their feeds to increase their growth rate and cause the thicken their shells so as to prevent it from cracking.
You can set the calcium in a feeding dish so the snails can eat it at will. Kindly note that snails drink a lot of water, and absence of adequate water supply can make them easily dehydrated, which can lead to infertility and stunting in the snails. If there is drought, snails can hibernate for up to two years, as is the case for desert snails. Cultured snails, however, should not be made to experience dehydration.
HARVESTING AND SELLING THE SNAILS
Snails usually mature in about two years, and only the mature ones should be harvested. In order to know which ones have matured, you should check the brim of the shell. The brim of mature snail shells are thicker and harder than other parts of the shell. Do not harvest all the mature ones for the market as you will still need a few for breeding and to serve as base stock. When harvesting, make use of containers, bowls, boxes and baskets to harvest your snails and 10kg per pack is usually ideal because of the high fragility of snails. A mature snail can fetch from as much as ₦300 to ₦800 in the market, depending on the size and season.