Animal protein intake of Nigerians is generally low leading to acute Malnutrition amongst the poor. Supply of animal protein cannot meet up with the increase in the population hence the high cost of the same. The conventional sources of animal protein to the people are cattle goat, sheep, pig, and poultry and fish e.t.c.
There are however other sources which are yet to be tapped but have great potentials for development and Snail meat is one of such hence the need for snail farming in Nigeria.
Snail meat which is very nutritious can be a very cheap and viable supplement to the protein requirements for most people in Nigeria and Africa at large. Unfortunately, due to ignorance of snails Farming techniques and modern snail breeding methods available, snails are still collected mainly from the wild by women and children and this is greatly leading to the extinction of this wonderful creature.
It has, therefore, become necessary to domesticate snails and organize snail Farming into a viable business as we are doing to fish and poultry farming as these have the potentials of supplementing the protein need of Nigerians and African, also for an alternative source of income and export opportunity for the country.
Before the discovery of crude oil in 1956, agriculture was the mainstay of our dear country Nigeria and our country was known for the export of agricultural produce to neighboring countries. Unfortunately, agriculture has been relegated to the background hence the reason our GDP is dropping by the day. No sane country uses her money to import what it has in abundance. Unfortunately, the government of the day is not seeing anything wrong with this. Nigeria is a green nation abundantly blessed with good soil and temperature for farming but we have abandoned agriculture for oil. If we must progress as a nation, then we must go back to the farm and improve on it. With good practices and modern farming types of equipment available, we can produce enough food for the country and export to other countries. Snail farming, pig farming, fish and poultry farming are viable areas to look into
What Makes Snail Meat Unique?
Snails’ meat popularly referred to as “Congo meat” in local parlance is consumed in many countries of the world. In some countries, however, snails are considered a delicacy for the rich only because of its nutritional and medicinal benefits.
Snail meat simply known as escargot is popular meat of many Nigerians in the rural areas especially in the rain forest belt, where it is picked from the wild by children and women. When we were younger, we could go to the farm and find hundreds of snails clustered around our farm hut and these served good delicacies for us. Today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see snails as we used to see them around houses and farms, therefore there is an urgent need for many more people to be involved in snail farming.
The potentials for its domestication and commercialization in the country has not been fully harnessed or exploited, although many studies and experience have shown that snails Farming is highly profitable and productive if well managed with good snail farming equipment and techniques.
Nutritionally, snails meat is high in protein (12 – 16%) and Iron (45 – 50%), low in fat (0.5 – 0.08%) and contains almost all the amino acids needed by man, being also rich in vitamins. Apart from the nutritional benefits, it is also known to have medicinal and cosmetic values hence the reason it is being sought for by pharmaceutical and cosmetic firms around the world.
In Nigeria, from the rural perspective snails have become an income earner to the rural dwellers who are making a living from picking snails from the wild (Rain forest) and gathering to sell in the markets and roadside. They usually collect snails in the raining season when snails are mostly found.
Why Snail Farming?
Snail Farming or breeding is simply a process of domesticating and rearing snails for the purpose of consumption and/or sales. It is also referred to as Heliculture.
Snail Farming is very popular in West Africa, South America and some Asian regions of the world. This is mainly because almost every part of the snail is useful in one way or the other. For example, the snail meat itself (escargot) is very rich in protein, the slime is used by cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies in drug production why the shell is used for making ornaments and pieces of jewelry (Indians love this).
Snails can be useful in other Agricultural activities. For instance, handcraft stores may be interested in the shells. Also, it is used as live bait for fishing in some villages in Nigeria. The shell of snails is also highly concentrated in calcium and therefore can be sold to poultry farmers to supplement calcium for making poultry feeds. Snails can also be used as feed for pigs and other animals.
Advantages of Snail Farming
Unlike other livestock Farming like poultry, piggery, goat, sheep, cattle, etc snails are environmentally friendly. Snail pen (house) is easy to construct and does not occupy a large space, their droppings are also not very offensive compared to others.
2. Not Capital Intensive:
Snail Farming is not so capital intensive to start compared to other livestock Farming such as poultry farming, fish farming, pig farming, cattle, etc. As a beginner in animal farming, you can easily and comfortably start with snailery because snail farming has relatively low financial implications and technical input. As a matter of fact, it can be started on a small scale, medium and large scale. However, this does not eradicate the fact that training and proper research are very important factors to consider before venturing into it.
Snail Farming provides for the necessary protein need for man where there is a shortage of animal protein supply most especially among the poor populace in the rural areas. Snail meat is also rich in calcium making it a good delicacy for young children and pregnant and expectant mothers.
Snail Farming helps in making snails available all year round. Usually, snails are seen everywhere during the rainy season, around the homes, nearby bushes and farms and go into extinction in the dry season. During the dry season when they hibernate and go into extinction, prices of snail usually skyrocket. However, snail breeding ensures availability at any time of the year
Snail rearing is a profitable venture when its potentials are fully exploited with good management practices and marketing of the end product. This is because snails reproduce rapidly and progressively. As a beginner in snail farming, you could actually start your snail farm with just 50 snails and within a year they have multiplied twice or more.
6. Export Product:
Snails have high export potentials, as I said earlier, snail slime can be exported to other countries where it is needed for drugs and cosmetics production. Even here in Nigeria, the slime when mixed with pure honey is used to cure different types of illnesses such as cough, etc. Snail meat can also be processed and exported as Escargot.
In my next article, we shall take a look at The Benefits of Snail Farming