Snail farming, otherwise known as heliciculture, is a lucrative practice that’s common all over the world. Snails are sold for their meat and are used in popular escargot dishes. To start and maintain a healthy snail farm, you’ll need to make sure that you get the right species of snails, create a favorable habitat, and care for the health of your snails. With patience and dedication, you can grow your snail farm from a personal hobby to a lucrative business venture.
Snail farming in Nigeria is one of the most lucrative agricultural business ideas for young entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Snail farming is a practical and viable business venture that is yet to be fully explored in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
Snail farming may not be the first thing that jumps to mind when thinking of profitable businesses to start in Nigeria. This post will open your eyes to the amount of hidden-wealth that can be realized by starting a snail farming business in Nigeria.
Why Snail Farming?
The market opportunity for snail farming in Nigeria and in Africa is huge but grossly underrated. Snails are a huge part of the diet in many parts of Africa, although they are not always affordable and available all year round. If you rear snail in commercial quantity, hotels, and fast food restaurants will be your regular customers.
In Nigeria, the prices of raw, matured snails go for N250 to N600 depending on the size. However, the annual demand for snail in Nigeria is about 7.5million kg annually. The international trade in snails is flourishing in Europe and North America. The United State America imports more than $4million worth of snails annually from all over the world, including Nigeria.
For many years now, snails handpicked from the farm or bush has been the only way to get snails to the market and dinner table. Currently, the demand for snail is higher than the supplies, an indication that the market potential of snail is inexhaustible, locally and internationally. Starting both small and large scale snail farming businesses in the only way to fill up the spaces between the demand for snail and its supply in Africa.
5 Steps To Starting A Snail Farm In Nigeria
f it has worked elsewhere, it will work in Nigeria. Below are the five basic steps you need to follow to start a profitable snail farming business in Nigeria.
Step 1 – Decide which species of snail to farm.
When creating a snail farm, you’ll have to use a single species of snail. Research has shown that snail species such as Achatina achatina are the best for warm climate regions like Africa.
Step 2 – Set-up your farmland for housing.
Your snail housing must have enough space for your snails to graze freely. Overcrowding your snailery impedes the development of snails and therefore should be avoided. A well-spaced snail housing reduces the risk of disease outbreak caused by overcrowding.
Snails are good at escaping from where they are kept, so you should endeavour to construct escape proof housing. You can use a pen house that will be spacious and accessible with a soil depth of 10 inches and trees around it.
Step 3 – Purchase your snails
If you want to start a snail farm, you’ll need to get snails. After setting-up proper housing and farmland for the snails, it’s time to buy some fresh quality snails from the market or any farm. It’s always best to be able to examine the snails before you buy them so that you know they are healthy.
When you first start your snail farm, you’ll want to get healthy, fully grown snails that will lay eggs and help populate your farm. Look at the shell of the snail. If there is a lip, that means they are a fully grown snail.
Step 4 – Feeding and rearing of the snails
Snails are vegetarians and can be fed with wide varieties of foods such as cabbage, cucumber, mango, banana, eggplant, pear, tomato and paw-paw, cassava, okra leaves or lettuce. However, you can as well feed snails with pineapple, banana or paw paw.
Mating and laying eggs are a vital part of snail farming. Typically, mating occurs during spring and summer. As hermaphrodites, snails can fertilize each other as soon as they are mature enough. In order for the egg laying to go over smoothly, you should use high-quality soil with the right temperature and humidity.
Step 5 – Harvesting and selling of the snails
It is not economically wise to harvest your snails before it’s maturity, it has to be mature before harvesting. Do not harvest all the matured snails at once to sell in the market. It is important to keep few for breeding and to serve as base stock for your snail farm.
Snail has good market demand and price. You can easily sell the snails in the local market. Snail meat consuming rate is growing very fast around the globe. So, exporting in the international market can make you more money.
Cost of Starting A Snail Farming Business
The mandatory expenses you need to account for if you’re wondering how to set up a snail farm include: housing, buying fresh snails, feeding, handling and processing the snails, marketing, and transportation.
You can start the business with N60,000 or N100,000 depending on how large you want your snail farm to be. Asides the amount of your investment, it is possible to produce 1,000,000 snails now worth more than N5 million twice a year.
This is made possible because of the availability of very highly prolific Achatina achatina species of snails, which lay 200 – 400 in one batch two-three times a year. If you produce 100,000 snails that sell for N250 each, which is N250 X 100,000, you will be making N2,500,000. You will be making N25,000,000 per annum or more than that if you produce 1,000,000 snails.
For beginners, creating a snail farming business plan is a crucial step that needs to be accomplished before starting. This will give you a deep understanding of everything that needs to be done.
In terms of cost and time, snail farming is a low-risk business. Unlike many other livestock businesses, snail farming requires very little startup and operating costs. You can even set up your snail farm at the backyard of your house to save cost on the purchase of farmland.
The best time to start up a snail farming is the rainy season especially from July to October because that is the time snails normally start to breed. You should also note that prices of snails multiply during scarcity between March and December, which is the dry season.