Snail farming in Nigeria; a complete guide

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Without a doubt, snail farming is one of the profitable business ideas and opportunities in Nigeria that are capable of giving out 100% return on investment (ROI).

Informatively, snail production is very popular in Nigeria because of the delicious taste of the species. This makes the huge demand for snail in the Nigerian market inevitable.

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In fact, only a few people know about the high profitability and lucrativeness of the business and you can actually start with little to no capital investment.

Why not go into the agribusiness sector and venture into snail farming now that the business is less exploit with huge global recognition and popularity?

We must confess, snail farming business is exotic and the competition in the labor market is relatively low. If you are thinking of establishing an everlasting business venture here, then be our guest.

Historical Background of Snail Farming

Snail farming or snail production is also known as heliciculture and history has it that Humans have been rearing and feeding on snails from time immemorial.

People love eating it because of its yummy and delicious taste. Not only that, snails have very low cholesterol and very high protein, iron, and water which makes them beneficial to the human body.

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Snail consumption is very popular in most of the world. Statistically, the global snail rearing or heliciculture industry generates over $12 billion from sales of snails annually.

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Countries are known for cultivating and eating snails

Snail consumption and snail cultivations are popular to some extent in Turkey, France, the U.S., Spain, China, Indonesia, Italy, as well as in many African countries like Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.

In France, there is a famous delicacy known as escargot, it is actually a cooked snail and people love eating it; most especially, the tourist.

Domestic snail cultivation and snail-eating in Nigeria and anywhere in Nigeria can meet up the nutrition demands of any family.

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Snail farming in Nigeria

Over the years, the popularity of snail cultivation as a business has grown exponentially. What is applicable before is subsistence cultivation.

Where people handpick snails in their neighborhood, rear them for some weeks, and then eat them. The story is changing now in Nigeria.

People are now seeing how useful and profitable a delicacy snail is. Its demand in the market is tempting and thus, people are venturing into the business.

Other than the fact that snails as delicacies are a bit expensive. They are as well widely used in the cosmetology industry for making cosmetics.

On this note, the cultivation and rearing of snails in Nigeria should be seen and taken as a lucrative and profitable business idea.

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So what is actually needed for this business, where to start, how to grow it, how to harvest, sell, and more will be explicitly explained later in this article.

Snail farming in Nigeria; a complete guide

Features Of Rearing Snail In Nigeria

Evidently, one of the reasons why people are cultivating snails in Nigeria is their economic value. Many people see it as a money-spinning venture.

However, there are many other benefits or features of cultivating snails in Nigeria than for economic reasons. Other features of snail production are highlighted below:

Nutritious: Snail meat is far better, in nutrition than any red meat you can think of. And it is very rich in nutritional ingredients.

Hermaphroditic in nature: Snails also belong to the hermaphrodite family with high reproductive. They have both male and female reproductive organs. As a result, they can recreate very fast.

Reproduction: Snails being hermaphroditic can lay eggs 7 times within the year. And each time they do, a single snail can lay more than 100 eggs.

Healthy meat: Snail meat is very high in calcium, protein, phosphorus, iron and very low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. As such, snail meat is usually recommended by doctors and dietitians for people.

Market value: Snail has an exotic market value all over the country and in the wider world including Europe, Asia, and West African regions.

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Email growth: Commercial snail farming can impact or decrease the importation of frozen foods like meat and fish from foreign Nations. This will save money and at the same time boost the economy.

Low-Risk involvement: Commercial snail rearing in Nigeria has a low risk of failure and the losses are minimal compared to any other livestock farming.

No irritation: Everything about the snail is usable including its shell. Snail farming is easier, not time-consuming, with no stress, noise, odor, or irritation.

Steps To Starting Snail Cultivation

Here, you will be exposed to all the various actions needed to start and keep your snail farming up and running in Nigeria.

These steps involve the farming and business-related aspects of it such as serving, financing, producing, sorting, harvesting, processing, transporting, and marketing.

What’s more, you can do or merge snail farming cultivation with your current job or occupation. This livestock farming requires less investment capital and produces many animals within a short period.

Without further delay, we shall be looking into the various steps to starting and establish a successful and profitable snail farming business in Nigeria under the subheadings below.

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Snail Cultivation in a Suitable Environment

Snail farming in Nigeria

Generally speaking, snails dehydrate easily. Dryness occurs in them because of the amount of moisture they lose and this is often cost by the increased rate of wind that gets to them.

Hence, it’s a condition precedent that you look for a suitable environment before setting up a snail farm anywhere in Nigeria.

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To get the best out of your heliciculture business, you are under obligation to build a snailery and place it in a wind-protected area or environment.

This will prevent the snails from losing the water contents in their body quickly. At least, an area with lots of trees will make an ideal environment for cultivating snails in Nigeria.

Suitable Soil For Rearing Snails in Nigeria

Another thing to consider before starting a snail rearing business in Nigeria is the soil content. They drink water from it, they lay their eggs on it, and lots more.

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A neutral pH value is highly recommended, at least with an organic concentration that falls between the range of 20 to 40 percent. If necessary, limestone can equally be added.

Note that not all soils are suitable for farming snails and it’s important you understand this. Snails shells are mainly calcium and the majority of the calcium’s are derived from the soil.

So since soil remains the major habitat of snails, for you to record a success in snail farming, then the selected land for cultivating the snails must contain some components or chemical substances necessary for their survival.

In addition, the fact that the selected soil has all the elements mentioned above, you must at the same time be very careful with it.

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The appropriate soil conditions should be maintained. The soil components should be neither too heavy nor too sandy. Once they dry out, it won’t be difficult for them to dig in heavy soils.

As such, make sure to keep a proper balance. Under no circumstances should you let the chosen soil become too dry, too waterlogged, and be acidic.

Always avoid acidic and clayey soil. Go for the Sandy-loamy soil with a very low water-holding ability. Such is the perfect soil for farming snails in Nigeria.

Suitable Whether or Climate for Farming Snail In Nigeria

Research shows that snails thrive well in a mild climate weighing 59–77 °F and they also flourish in the high humidity of around 75% to 95%. Most livestock tolerates a wider range though.

At very lower temperatures, snails tend to stop growing and in the end, they go into hibernation. That is why you must study the climatic condition very well before starting up.

A controlled environment growing stands the chance of expanding the geographic range of places where snails can be grown.

A very cool environment with mild temperatures is advisable. Remember that dry soil conditions as a result of excessive wind or higher temperatures may also lead to snail dormancy.

Snailery

A snailery is a very small snail house. It is where you house the snails for breeding purposes and it is very important for snail farming or rearing in Nigeria.

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Some of the features or attributes of a snailery include:

Security: A good and well-furnished snailery will keep the snails away from all forms of danger that might come their way.

Productivity: A well-constructed snailery will enhance the adults to comfortably lay their eggs and as such, increase production.

Housing: Although the essence of snailery is to serve as a house for the snails, other than a mere house, it actually prevents the snails from crawling out of the snail farm.

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How to build a snailery

There is no fixed or permanent style, way, or method of constructing snaileries, it depends greatly on the farmer’s choice or business scale.

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In the case of cultivating snails on small scale, the snaileries can be in the form of a good patch fence-protected ground or a covered box with mesh or nets around it to aid ventilation.

But notwithstanding, you can construct a snailery by making a concrete pen with wet soil of about 10 inches deep or thereabouts, as simple as that.

Better still, you can dig a trench, cover all of its sides with wire or screen to prevent the animals from escaping your captivity. This method is encouraging for commercial and larger snail production.

At least, make sure that the fence is 30 cm deepen to the ground and 70 cm above it to prevent the harmful predators from the entrance into the territory

You must also note that snails like it in dark and cold places. But make sure that they are far from any harmful humidity substance or level.

For control and regulation of the snailery temperature, wet cloth and fresh leaves can be used. Lay them on the snailery in such a way that water will be dripping or dropping down to the ground.

Again, it is your duty and responsibility to ensure that harmful animals or insects like snakes, rodents, soldier ants, rats, and other kinds of harmful predators can’t access them.

In such a situation, wire or mesh can be used around the snaileries to keep those animals away. Harmful and smaller insects like termites too should be taken care of.

Buy Fresh Snails to Cultivate or Rear

After you must have selected the most suitable soil and a perfect environment for your snail farming, you can now buy fresh snails to rear in the snail farm.

In the same vein, you can result into hand picking snails from the bush and nearby forest to cultivate your farm. Either of the two is okay.

In fact, some of the professional snail farmers opined that getting fresh snails to rear in your farm directly from the forest will yield better results than buying them.

They relied on the fact that the handpicked snails from the bush can adapt easily to the new environment than buying them from other farmers or in the market

How to Collect Snails From the Forest.

If you will be starting your snaileries from the scratch and will like to collect snails from any nearby forest, you can do that using this simple technique.

During the rainy season, clear out some portion of land in the bush and sprinkle any spicy fruit like banana, pawpaw, pineapple, etc there.

Once you’ve completed this process, leave the area and check back after 3 to 4 hours, you will see a bunch of snails gathering around the place.

Kindly pick all the gathered snails and take them to your snaileries or snail farm. Repeat the same process again and again until you are satisfied with the amount you got on your farm.

So as a beginner, you will need nothing less than 800 adults species since you are starting the snail business on large scale. But if you are starting to see how the business works, you can just gather few dozen from the wild place.

What really matters is that you select or pick the bigger ones for efficient performance. Remember, the mollusks are hermaphrodite in nature, they’ll reproduce in due time. 

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Moreover, other than hand-picking snails from the bush or buying them from other snail farmers or in the market, there’s another way in which you can get fresh snails to rear.

This other way is known as mating and egg-laying.

Mating and Egg-laying

Snail eggs

You will agree with me that snails are hermaphroditic in nature. They possess both the male and female genitals or reproductive organs.

Usually, mating occurs in snails in the early summer or during the springs. They lay whatever the number of eggs they are capable of within few weeks of mating.

Note that snails don’t just lay eggs anywhere they find, they need at least soil of two inches deep for laying the eggs.

On this note, if you will be starting heliciculture from the scratch by cultivating their eggs, you can get snail eggs from existing farmers or where they are being littered for sale in the market.

You can at the same time collect their eggs from the bush, but of course, that is going to be a hectic task. 

Endeavor to check the fertility or otherwise of the eggs. Reason being that some eggs might have lost fertility due to their exposure to sunlight.

Once you’ve gotten the snail eggs, put them in an empty snailery or container filled with wet sand, after that cover the container with the eggs in it with a cocoyam leaf.

After 21 days of this traditional incubation, start checking on the eggs. But most time, it took snail eggs 21-29 days to hatch into a baby.

Once all of the eggs or 95% of them have hatched into babies, start feeding them. Clear the surrounding from anything that can harm them. And make sure to give them regular and proper attention.

After a week or two, divide them into different snaileries to give room for space and ventilation.

Gradually, the snail babies will grow into adult snails, then you can kick-start your commercial snail farming in Nigeria.

Snail feeding and watering

Snail feeding and watering

Although snails can survive without food or water for two months nonetheless, feeding and watering is an important aspect of snail farming for better production.

Generally, snails eat green leaves, fruits, etc. Feeding snails as at when due will ensure that they grow and develop properly.

The kind of food you feed and how often you do will be responsible for helping the snails develop their tissues while adequate calcium will be responsible for growing their shells.

That being said, you can feed any of the plant leaves to your snails without any issue:

  • Lettuce leaves
  • Okra leaves
  • Cassava leaves
  • Eggplant leaves
  • pawpaw leaves
  • Cabbage
  • Cocoyam

Also, some of the fruits which snails can feed on include:

  • Banana
  • Pawpaw
  • Cucumber,
  • Mango
  • Tomatoes
  • Oil palm fruits
  • Eggplant
  • Pears, etc.

Not limited to the above-listed leaves and fruits, snails can also feed on most foods we eat or consume like cooked rice, yam, beans, etc.

 How to harvest matured snails

The fact that a snail has grown into an adult does not mean it’s ripe for harvest. It takes time before they grow into market value.

So it is important at this juncture to state that as profitable as snail farming is, it is not and has never been a get-rich-quick business idea or opportunity. It grows with time.

There and then, it takes snails up to 2 years or thereabouts for them to become sellable. You can tell if a snail is matured or not through the brim of its shell.

That is to say, the thicker or harder a snail shell is, the more mature such snail is.

So the moment the snails have reached this maturity stage, you can harvest and sell most of them and keep a few for breeding. After all, the snails can no longer grow, at this stage, again. 

According to experts, the most convenient time to harvest snails is during wet weather. The collection or harvest should be performed weekly, often in autumn or spring.

So to do this, you must firstly layout a few slate sheets where the harvested snails will be gathered.

After the collection of the gastropods, you must keep them in a cage for 7 days in other to completely get rid of the soil in their digestive system.

During this period, the snails should not be fed or watered, they can leave without these for 2 months. The temperature should be within the range of +4 degrees and have enough coolness.

Now, after a week the pre-sell preservation should be enough just pack the mollusks (the snails) into mesh bags or boxes and take them to the market for sale.

You may decide not to take them to the market yourself and prefer the interested buyers coming down to your farm. All you need to do is to advertise them using the various marketing tools and platforms.

Snail Marketing and Advertising

If you cut your onion well and everything goes smoothly as we have explained above, then your snail farm must have grown very fast at this moment.

After harvest, separate the bigger snails and put them in one cage, and do the same for the small ones. Snail market demand and pricing are tempting, there’s no need to worry.

At this juncture, you will agree with me that the rate at which snail meat is being consumed throughout the globe is growing very fast.

So selling your snails in your local market could be good but exporting them into the international market can even be better.

You will generate more income than you anticipate. To do this, you might want to adopt the following marketing tactics:

  • Run ads online: you can run advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, or even Google ads telling people about your snails.

Adopting these marketing techniques will ensure your advert reaches the international market where your potential customers are.

  • Personal ads on social media: you can equally upload pictures of your matured snails on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc. pages where your target audience is.
  • Mass media ads: In the same vein, you can run a promotion with any broadcasting station like a TV station or radio station where they advertise your snail farm for a price.
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You can also do banners, fliers, billboards, and the likes with pictures of your snails, address of your farm, bonus (if any), etc., all fusion there.

Whether or not you will be able to run all or a few of the above marketing tactics depend greatly on your financial capability.

But if you can afford any of them, word of mouth referral also works well. Talk to your friend who has a neighbor to tell him that your snail farm is harvesting.

Go to hotels, restaurants, eateries, and the likes and tell them about your farm. Give than reasons why they should patronize you and be humble with your sale pitch.

Lastly, go to a public gathering where your target audience is and make an announcement regarding your farm and your matured snails.

Tell them you are currently selling at a discount rate, and there’s a gift for anybody who refers buyers to you to buy a certain amount of snails from you.

All these methods will in one way or the other work for you. Try them out and see the power of effective marketing.

Major Markets to Sell Snails

As it has been stated earlier on that other than consuming, the snail can be used for many things. So before you start the snail’s production proper, it’s ideal you analyze the available sales markets.

Though not exhausted, below are some of the local and international snail markets or consumers:

Hotels or restaurants with special cuisine, in which the snail meat is an exotic and expensive delicacy.

  • Companies that produce semi-finished frozen products.
  • Pharmaceutical companies that produce medications.
  • Cosmetology industry that manufactures cosmetics, etc.

Other ways to start snail farming in Nigeria

While the above steps discussed on how to start snail cultivation in Nigeria might look difficult or confusing to you, there are other ways you can adopt though.

These other ways are simple, straightforward but cannot be relied upon if you are aiming millions from your snail farm or snail production.

These other ways or methods are generally referred to as “snail farming technology” for beginners. They include

Snail farming technology for beginners

Any wannabe farmer or future entrepreneur who is desirous to become a snail farmer but doesn’t have all it takes, there are other three options available for him.

These options allow him to start and grow the farm at home. They include:

  • Homemade farm;
  • Farm made in a cellar, garage, shed, or greenhouse, and
  • Outdoor farm.

Homemade snail farm

The homemade snail farming could be carried out in a plastic container that will be kept on the balcony or in a large room aquarium.

This method is perfect and ideal for people who stay in an urban area. Plus, this snail breeding option is excellent for aspiring farmers who are not too sure about the business.

This is because breeding the snails in an apartment will give you all the opportunities to see and feel all the smoothness or pitfalls of the rearing process.

Testing running a business to see its pros and cons is an important step that most aspiring entrepreneurs miss and thereby risking their investments greatly.

Although business experts recommend having the desire to take risks in any business venture, yet this method is advisable still.

Farm made in a cellar or greenhouse

The second option on the list of snail farming technology for aspiring snail farmers is to run the snail farm in a shed, cellar, garage, or greenhouse.

This method is similar to the first one but the only difference is that the former is smaller in scale compared to the latter.

For breeding snails in a cellar, garage, or a container place in your balcony, you will need the following:

  • An equipped area such as balcony shed, greenhouse, etc;
  • Special terrariums for the snails or gastropods;
  • Soil that is fertilized with all the useful elements;
  • Food for growing twigs and mollusks; etc.

Note that breeding snails purposely for meat is not that complicated as it seems, although its process is demanding. Among these processes are:

  • It is a must you maintain a strict and adequate temperature
  • You must clean the snails waste products at least once in three days
  • You must monitor the snailery soil moisture
  • You must feed them food such as leaves, plants, human consumables, most especially the soft or decaying ones, etc.

Lastly, if you tried either of these first two steps successfully without any problem, and you even got your first proceeds or profits, then you can go into full-scale snails cultivation.

Outdoor snail farming

For farming outdoors, this is similar to the steps explained earlier on but the only difference is that here, you are starting to learn the process while there, you are starting for the profits ASAP.

For outdoor snail breeding, the cultures to be grown on a particular farm should not exceed 50 centimeters and the soil should be piped and regularly fertilized for calcium.

Also, fresh weeds, leaves, and grasses should be planted. And make sure to protect the species against insects and pests like carnivorous beetles, rats, birds, lizards, moles, etc.

Conclusion

We must at this juncture state that snail meat is delicious and highly celebrated all over Nigeria. The most interesting thing about it is that no single religion or tribe prohibits eating snails as a lump of meat.

Whatever your reasons are for picking interest in heliciculture or snail farming and production, this blog post is comprehensive enough to lead you to the promised land.

Take your time to read it over and over again, in case you have any questions or clarification, you are one step away from the comment box.

Don’t forget to share this article to your love ones too, thanks.

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