Snail farming is one of the most profitable farming business in Nigeria currently. Unfortunately, many people still do not know about it simply because snail farmers in Nigeria over the years have jealously monopolized the business for them and their family alone.
It is common knowledge that the demand for snail meat (escargot) in Nigeria alone is much more than the supply let alone the demand from the international market. Hence, the urgent need for more snail farmers in Nigeria.
How Profitable is Snail Farming in Nigeria? On several occasions, I have been asked this question by prospective snail farmers as well as established fish farmers,
Poultry farmers, etc. Fish farmers and Poultry farmers who at some point were considering adding snail farming to their farming venture. Snail farming is profitable but it also depends on what you are willing to put in; in terms of money, expertise and the time required.
ALSO READ: Benefits of Snail Farming
Today, I want to look at 7 major things you should critically look into before you think of starting a snail farm. These 7 things can make or mar the success of your snail farming venture.
Snail Housing System:
Before you start a snail farm, the very first thing you have to consider is a comfortable and adequate housing system for the snails you intend to rear. Just like other forms of livestock farming in Nigeria, such as fish farming, poultry, piggery, goat rearing, and others, snail rearing should not be embarked making plans on where to keep them.
However, while snail rearing may not require very sophisticated and expensive housing, it is not enough to just put up anything you like and then introduce your snails into it. Your snail housing system will be determined by several factors such as; the number of snails you wish to rear, your available space, budget, security from parasites, predators and humans and of course personal preference. This will help you decide whether you are using tyres, cage, hutch box or an open space housing. Basically, there are 3 types of housing available to every snail farmer namely;
Extensive/Free range housing system.
The intensive system is more of a confined housing system which restricts the free movement of the snails. Example of an intensive system includes; car tyre, cage, etc. The semi-intensive housing system combines the feeling of both the intensive and extensive systems; while the extensive system is more like an outdoor system that allows the snails to move freely and have the experience of their natural habitat; this makes them active as it models what they are used to in the wild.
ALSO READ: Types of Snail Farming
The second very important thing you will need to consider as a snail farmer is the breed/species of snail you want to raise. Just as it is with other animals, there are many different species of snails available on earth and each of these breeds or species have their own demands, peculiarities, as well as the level of acceptance. In
Nigeria and Africa in general, we have 3 major species commonly bred by snail farmers in Africa and they are usually referred to as Giant African Land Snails (GALS).
They are as follows; Achatina achatina (AA), Archachatina marginata (AM), Achatina fulica
While these 3 species are common in Africa, most snail farmers usually rear the first two (2) simply because they grow faster and bigger and therefore are of more economic value than the third one. As a matter of fact, Achatina fulica is usually regarded as a pest and therefore should not be kept. Though they very many eggs, they are not as profitable as compared to AA and AM.
Feeding your snails regularly and properly is one thing you should not joke with as a snail farmer. While it is true that, snails do not demand so much compared to other livestock, it is important to note that, they also need highly nutritious feeds and proper feeding techniques in order to grow big and healthy.
Luckily, snails eat almost all edible fruits and vegetables, hence you do not need to break the bank before just to feed them. They feed on normal fruits, leaves, vegetables such as pawpaw (ripe and unripe), pawpaw leaves, cocoa, cocoa yam (leave and tuber), plantain, watermelon, cucumber, etc. Apart from fresh fruits and vegetables, it is advisable to supplement their feeding with formulated feeds that are rich in Calcium. TAKE NOTE! Salt is not good for your snails, so never give them any feed/food that contains salt.
Snail Farming Training
While it is true that snail rearing is one of the easiest farming ventures anyone can engage in, it is also very true and advisable that you acquire basic knowledge of snail farming.
In order to be able to make a proper decision as to when to start your farm, you will need at least, basic training on snail farming in Nigeria.
Snails are hermaphroditic in nature, but they will still mate to produce eggs which will be hatched after some weeks. You also need to learn how to handle the baby hatchlings and also how to market them when they have grown to a table or giant size.
Have you heard the adage “Time is Money?”, I bet you have. What do I mean? You will have to devote a little time to take care of them. While snails will not require so much time like Poultry birds and Fish, you should know that snails are also very fragile and need to be handled with care. Occasionally check their pen and around their house for dangerous insects like soldier ants, flies and others.
Let me tell you a short story. The first time I started snail farming several years ago. I decided to visit a snail farmer in Benin, Edo State who gave me 4 snails. When I got home, I was contemplating whether to eat them or just keep them, eventually, I decided to keep them.
I was feeding them very well as advised and luckily for me, one of them laid some eggs. After some days, something came up and I had to travel for 2days. Lo and behold! Soldier ants had killed them. That was how I lost all of them.
In every business, there must be marketing. Without buyers, you will not make any money.
My advice is that once you start your snail farm, you should also start looking for people to sell to when they mature. Irrespective of their slow growth rate, they can surprisingly multiply into thousands before you know it. Arrange for their housing, accommodation, feeding as well as people that will buy from you when you decide to harvest.
I have seen snail farmers throw in the towel after few months of setting up their snail farm. Somehow, they became so impatient to wait for 12months or 24months for the snails to mature for sales.
The only way to succeed in snail farming is to be passionate about it and you will succeed in it.
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