The need to move away from an “Oil Driven Economy”, to an “Agricultural driven economy” becomes the best and most important option in Nigeria. This has led to Entreprenuary ventures (self-business) being encouraged by the government. This article will look at how to start a snail farming business in Nigeria. If you can learn how to start a snail farming business, it is no doubt lucrative in Nigeria. Snails have a huge nutritional and economic value worldwide and Nigeria is not exempted.
Snail is a good source of protein and so many people prefer eating snail meat to any other type of meat because of its nutritional value. The primitive knowledge of going to search for snails in our forest has limited snail farming in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. This article will help eliminate ignorance and increase the great opportunities in the snail farming business in Nigeria. Also to teach you how to start a snail farming business in Nigeria and any other part of the world.
A snail can be described in simple terms as a gastropod with a shell. Land snail is known as pulmonate gastropod molluscs and is suitable for the snail farming business. The land snail will be our main focus. Learning how to start a snail farming business will be easy if you carefully read through this article.
Steps On How To Start A Snail Business
To be successful in any business, you must follow the instructions and guidelines given by professionals in that field. This is because these professionals must have done some research and have results to show for it. There are steps on how to start a snail business and be profitable. We will be discussing the steps on how to start a snail farming business below.
Develop A Business Plan
The first step how to start a snail farming business is to develop a business plan. No one starts a business without first developing a business plan. Having a business plan is very important and a good take-off to be successful in the snail farming business in Nigeria.
The business plan should contain your goals and how to achieve these goals, spelling out means of carrying out your objectives and how to sustain them. For example the cost estimate of the snail farming business, the targeted customer or consumers, whether it is small or large-scale production. The expected profit of the business should also be stated in the business plan.
Capital For The Snail Farming Business
One of the most important steps how to start a snail farming business in Nigeria is to have start-up capital. The financial resources to operate the snail farming business should be readily available. Note that a good business plan can help to secure loans from banks or grants from the government or cooperate organisations to enable you to run the snail farming business. A snail farming business can be started by saving as low as Fifty thousand (#50,000) Naira and making up to Five Million (#5,000,000) Naira annually if snail rearing is managed correctly well and you also get the whole process right.
Choosing The Species Of Snail To Farm
Being able to determine the species of snail you want to farm is one of the important steps on how to start a snail farming business. The giant African land snail Achatina species, but there are about three (3) notable species of Achatina that can be commercially rare in Africa. They are:
Achatina Achatina (Giant tiger land snail)
These are gigantic species of air-breathing land snails, they possess both male and female reproductive organs (hermaphrodites). But for prolific breeders, two snails still need to meet for breeding. Achatina achatina can reach the length and diameter of 200mm and 100mm respectively. The shell is often broadly ovate and possesses 7-8 whorls. An Achantina lays 300 to 500 eggs at a time in clusters.
Archachatina Marginata(Giant West African snail)
This is a species of air-breathing land snail that grow up to 2mm long and can live up to 5- 10 years. It has a high production capacity and is readily available in Nigeria.
Achatina Fulica(Giant African land snail)
This is a large, air-breathing land snail, it is smaller in size compared to the earlier-mentioned species (An Achatina and An Maarginata). Its narrow conical shell makes it easy to identify and twice in length compared to its width with 7-9 whorl when fully mature. Achantina fulica has a reddish-brown colour and weak yellowish vertical marks.
Snail species such as Achatina Achatina are the best for warm climatic places such as Africa and have very high commercial profitability.
Location For Snail Farming
One of the steps how to start a snail farming business is to get a good location that will be favourable. Snails in nature easily lose water. You need to look for a good environment, a cool, moist or humid tree surrounding area is suitable for snail rearing as it provides a shield against direct sunlight or heat. A good environment with trees prevents wind effects which can cause dehydration to snails.
Housing For The Snail
Providing housing for the snail is one of the steps how to start a snail farming business in Nigeria. The snail house must be well spacious to avoid overcrowding which can lead to a reduction in size and risk of disease outbreak. The size of the snail house should be dependent on the number of snails you want to rear. You should protect the snails from harsh weather conditions, harmful pests, and predators (termites, ants, dogs, snakes, cats, rats, etc.) and where they will not drown.
Rearing Of Snails
One of the steps how to start a snail farming business is to have a good knowledge of the snail species, their life cycle, breeding cycle, hibernation period etc. This will make you have a successful snail farming business.
Type of soil for snail farming
The soil is the major habitat of land snails, this does not mean all soil is suitable for snail rearing. One of the important things to note when considering how to start a snail farming business is choosing the best soil that is suitable for raring snails.
The best soil for snail farming is soil that is not acidic or alkaline, not waterlogged or too dried but must be balanced in chemical and water content, hence sandy-loamy soil is the best soil for snail farming. The soil should have low water retention capacity with a lot of humus materials to allow the snails to burrow into it and aid their egg laying if the soil depth is up to 10 inches.
Sourcing The Snails For Farming Business
The knowledge of the different species of snail comes into play in this situation, and the location in which the snail house is sited will help you to choose the suitable snail species to farm. Ensure you use a particular species of snail. It will be advisable to buy your snails from a well-known or established snail farm and not from the market, some of the ones you see in the market have been transported from a long distance and loaded in a bad condition. In other words, the snails must have been stressed and strained and will not yield the needed result.
If you are looking for how to start a snail farming business with a fertile and good snail, getting snails from their natural habitat is best recommended. Employ the method of going to source your snails from the bushes. To help you achieve this, locate and map out an area of the forest clear it and litter the cleared portions with food materials like banana, pawpaw plantain or their waste products or other fruits waste materials.
This should be done in the evening say 5 pm during the rainy season and check the place very early in the morning, you will pick snails for rearing. Continue this until you get the quantity you needed for snail farming.
Feeding your snails can be with snail feed or natural vegetable waste or fruits. The capital available will determine if you will base your snail food on snail feed or natural source food ( fruits and vegetables), but do not forget you are rearing for commercial purposes.
If you are operating on a small scale, you can feed the snails with naturally sourced food and introduce snail feed at intervals but should not change their diets rapidly. Prolific growth in snail farming can be achieved by ensuring the snails get a regular water supply to prevent dehydration which is common with snails. A good rearing procedure includes the provision of a comfortable environment to lay and hatch their eggs.
Harvesting Of Snails
For you to achieve the economic value of snail farming, you must rear the snails to maturity by harvesting them. Sometimes you will discover that some are getting bigger than others, separate them into different sizes and feed them according to their sizes. To know if your snails are matured, take a look at the brim of the shell, you will find out they are thicker and stronger than other parts of their shell. When harvesting the snails, you must handle them with care, they should not be overloaded in a container or basket. It should be 10kg per container.
Lastly, I will advise you should not to harvest all your matured snails at once for sale but keep some that will lay and hatch new and younger ones to serve as “capital base stock” for the snail farming business.
Marketing The Snail
The final stage of how to start a snail farming business in Nigeria is for the snail to get to the final consumers. But before taking the matured snails to market they have to be sorted according to their sizes, which in turn determine what you should sell. Be assured that you will make a profit from your harvest if they are big enough because 40-70% of Nigerians eat snail meat known as Congo meat, Eju, Igbin, etc, Snail meat is one of the delicacies in Nigerian”s food. Snails are highly nutritional, with these mentioned reasons, demand for snail meat is certainly higher than the supply and the sales of your snail are assured.
How You Can Market Your Snails
Marketing of snails as stated above has been identified as one of the steps how to start a snail farming business in Nigeria. The following are the various ways you can market your snail from your snail farming business.
- Take your snails to the market and supermarkets.
- Supply to hotels, eateries, and restaurants that prepare snail dishes and delicacies.
- Supply to cosmetics medical/ Pharmaceutical industries.
Must-Have Knowledge or Things You Should Know About Snails
- Snails’ slime and eggs are very useful in cosmetic industries.
- Snails are Nocturnal, they are adapted to nightlife activities or much active at night.
- Snails are Hermaphrodites, they have both male and female sex organs in a single snail, but carry out cross-fertilization.
- The best time to start up a snail farming business in Nigeria is during the rainy season because it is their favourite season for breeding.
- The best species of snail to rear in tropical Africa and Nigeria because of their high productivity and economic size are Achatina Achatina (Giant tiger land snail), Archachatina Marginata (West African Giant snail) and Achatina fulica ( Giant African land snail).
- The Achatina Achatina species lays 80-350 eggs at once, and they lay eggs about one to three times a year.
- The Archachatina Marginata species lays 6-14 eggs four times a year.
- The Achatina Fulica species lays as many as 100-400 eggs about six times a year.
- Snails are omnivorous, they feed on plants and animals.
- Snails are easily dehydrated, and direct sunlight and wind increase the rate of moisture loss in snails.
- Snails hibernate or aestivate (seal their face with a transparency seal) when the weather is not favourable or when they sense danger.
- Under good conditions, healthy snail eggs will take 21-28days to hatch and produce young ones.
- Snails drink a lot of water and will be dehydrated if they are not provided with enough water. This can result in stunted growth and infertility.
- Snails need calcium for shell growth and hardening, providing means for an extra supply of calcium (limestone and eggshell) will be necessary.
- Snail has weak teeth which they use to rasp on food materials and do not need a strong or hard feed or food.
Nutritional Benefits of snails
Apart from using snails to prepare delicious meals and delicacies, snails are known sources of nutrients like; Protein, calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, fats, vitamins (A, C, E, B6 and B12, amino acids, folate, potassium, etc).
Their low fats and calorie content make them a good prospect for weight loss, cancer and cardiovascular patients are advised to eat more snails, hence the nutritional and medicinal value of snail meat can not be overlooked.
Build A Snail Pen
To start a snail farming business, I will advise you to start with a snail “Pen”. Building a snail pen is easy and can be done with materials that are affordable like wire gage, old tyres, baskets wooden frames or boxes etc. Let’s take an example;
How To Build A Snail Pen using a Basket
- Get a spacious basket
- Spread a waterproof sack at the bottom of the basket.
- Fill the prepared basket with sandy-loamy sand mixed with humus material to at least 10 inches in depth.
- Add some dried leaves to the soil and cover the basket with fishing or mosquito nets as a protective cover which will also allow good ventilation for the snails.
If you have carefully read through this article, you are halfway successful in starting a snail farming business. The steps on how to start a snail farming business in Nigeria have been listed and explained in this article. Without a doubt snail farming business is a potentially profitable venture that is easy to start with minimal capital and has low risk to manage.