Editor’s note: Saheed Akinola Esq, the NAIJ.com partner blogger, in this latest article explains 9 factors that must be considered before starting snail farming business.
Saheed is a legal practitioner and consultant on farming/agricultural investments.
His expertise covers a wide area such as corporate practice, asset acquisition, property acquisition, sales and management, farm management and consultancy.
He consults for individuals and corporate organization across Nigeria and abroad.
Snail farming business is a very lucrative and rewarding business that you can start with little budget and grow within a short period of time. This write-up is to enlighten the public on the factors to be considered before venturing into the business.
This piece is borne out of my experience over the time as a snail farmer. Because we could not meet the demand for snails in international market, therefore, we want everybody to come on board by participating in this business.
1. Acquisition of knowledge
Acquisition of knowledge in every trade cannot be over emphasized because to break even in a business dabbled into without knowledge is difficult if not impossible. It is not business wise to start doing trial and error with once investments; it is encouraging to learn the trade from an established and seasoned snail farmer.
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Every prospective snail farmer needed to be taught the fundamentals of snail farming business which will assist him to be successful in the business. Every snail farmer must acquire some knowledge in relation to the environment suitable for rearing of snail; how best to construct snail pen to prevent predators from invading the pen, how best to prevent termite from invading the pen from the soil within the pen; what classes of food and the quantity required by snail; how to prevent infection in snail and how to treat them when they are infected; what are the common diseases of snails and how to treat them. Lack of this knowledge might sabotage the whole effort you put in the business.
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2. Commercial snails in Nigeria
You must take a decision as to which specie of snail you want to rear. The most suitable and commercial snail species for rearing in Nigeria are: Achatina Fulica, Achatina Achatina and the Achatina Marginata.
3. Snail farming environment /site.
It is generally known that Snails are found of looking for escape routes from enclosures. Construction an escape proof pens should be a priority in setting up a productive snail farming venture. There are several types of snail housing ranging from hunch boxes, trenches or free range to choose from, depending on the size of the venture whether it is a small scale or large scale.
The first step, however, is to select an appropriate site. The main factors to consider in site selection are the following:
b. Wind speed and direction
c. Soil characteristics
d. Safety: protecting the snails from diseases, predators like ants, termites, lizard etc.
Optimal site selection helps to prevent, or at least reduce, dormancy Factors such as temperature and humidity and soil characteristics that influence snail survival and growth are discussed below.
Snail farm should be sited in a conducive environment which is not too hot and also not in the direction of wind. Direct sunlight on the snail will cause dehydration to the snail therefore lead to its dryness which could cause weakness and loss of appetite to the snail.
Fruits like banana tree should be planted around your farm to provide shade to your pen. The trees around the pen will equally protect it from wind.
Before embarking on snail farming you must make sure you have conducted a feasibility study as to where and how to sell your snails. There is always market for snails. You can choose one or combination of the following when considering market:
I. Small joint
You can decide to operate a mini boiled peppers snail or fried peppers snail joint and you can be sure to make huge cash.
II. You can target a high brow areas and supply directly to individuals or groups in the areas.
II. Snail traders
Snail traders in the local markets usually sell big, medium and small sized snail. You can make cool profit if you buy and stock the big ones and wait for when its scarce to resell back to the snail traders. You can also buy medium size, grow them to become bigger at your farm and resell to the traders for better profit.
IV. You can sell to Hotels
The Hotels are in huge demand for snails. You can position yourself as a regular supplier. Once they know you always supply at agreed time and period then you are on your way to regular income.
V. You can also supply to Restaurants
They also patronize suppliers of quality. The more restaurants you supply, the bigger your profit will be.
VI. You can equally target Eateries and Barbeque operators. They also patronize suppliers of quality snails.
VII. Export: You can source for client abroad and export the snails and make your money in foreign currency.
5. Sourcing for snails
You would need some snails to start up your snail farm and you must ensure that they are fertile and in perfect condition. The best place to source for your initial stock is from snail farmer who has been rearing them and who know their condition.
Another reason why it is encouraged to get your stock from a snail farmer is because the snail reared in the farm are not exposed to too much sunlight which would dehydrate them and make them less fertile.
Pest and diseases: termites, lizards, snakes, ants etc are some of the common enemies of snail and should be prevented from gaining entrance into your snail pen
7. Construction of a snail farm
One of the factors to consider before you start your snail farming business is the construction of the snail house. You must decide on the type of pen you will be using for your snail: whether you are using hunchbox, free range, intensive, extensive or semi intensive system.
Your choice of pen will depend on the finance available to you, the size of land you are using for snailry and the soil. You can build a snail farm in different sizes. However, you must take steps to make the farm adaptable and comfortable for the snails.
You can construct a small-scale farm using simple materials like mosquito net and wooden rod or you can decide to use galvanise pipes and iron net. The most important thing is to create a spacious environment where snails can be kept, fed and reproduced. Snail pens must be escape-proof and must be well ventilated
8. Feeding of snails
Snails are nocturnal animals – they have the tendencies to eat mainly at night. They feed on a wide range of fruits and crops: be it dry or fresh. Snails can feed on peels of cocoyam, sweet potato, rice, maize chaff, etc.
The most important element vital for the proper growth and reproduction of snails is calcium, and calcium can be cheaply gotten from green outer leaves of cabbage, pawpaw leaf, pawpaw fruits, etc. You can also feed your snail with a specially formulated snail feed.
Your choice of whether to feed your snails with fruits and vegetables or formulated feeds must be considered before venturing into the business.
Security is one of the factors that must be considered before you start your snail farming business. Your farm must be sited in a well secured place preferably a fenced piece of land to prevent theft.
The demand for snails is now higher than the supply both locally and internationally, therefore, the time is right for everyone whether young or old to key into this lucrative business.
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