Heliculture is a lucrative venture, yet to be appreciated in the Agro industry, because very few are aware of its profit potentials and fortune the business enterprise holds. Snail farming provides one of the finest opportunities to make money over time; but it is one of the most neglected animal rearing businesses in our country. People see snails here and there, some people consume it as meat, but quite a number don’t know how to go about rearing them. Snails are hermaphrodite and have high fecundity rate (lays 250 – 400 eggs per breeding season). Snails; also are high in protein (12–16%) and irons (45–50 mg/kg), very low in high density lipoprotein (HDL) and contain almost all the amino acids needed by humans which makes it an alternative to the nutritional value of fishes.
Snail farming is as easy as ABC. It doesn’t require much expertise. The only thing the snails may constantly demand from you is your attention and care. They hardly fall sick. You don’t have to buy their food and you may not have to spend much to build the snailery (pen) for them. The beauty of it all is that the snails reproduce rapidly; they are capable of producing hundreds of eggs, which hatch into juveniles in a short while. They can serve as economic pests if not properly handled. It is now possible to produce 1,000,000 snails worth more than N5 million twice a year, due to the discovery of very highly prolific Achatina & Archatina species of snails, which lay hundreds of eggs in one batch.
There’s the urgent need for Nigerians to have a radical shift from total dependence on government for job to entrepreneurship. One of such attractive areas for self-employment is snail farming. Heliculture is a great money-spinning business and a substantial source of protein to complement Nigerian carbohydrate meals. Sadly Nigerians’ inclination to go into same business fields where thousands have already made their fortune has led to the utter neglect of such lucrative area of snail farming in Nigeria.
Heliculture (Snail farming) is the process of raising snails either in an intensive or free range environment, thus making them feel as if they are in their natural habitat, this is done because of its economic values (meat, manufacturing and financial befits) others are its aesthetics (beauty, decoration and research) purposes. A snailery is a housing structure where snails are bred.
The Snail Market
There is a ready market for snail, locally and internationally. Hotels, fast food, restaurants, neighbors, are your closer customers. They will only need your assurance of regular supply. The aged are also a targeted market as snails are wonderful substitute for the common red meat (cows, bull and bovines) and are good supplements for protein, calcium and iron to the senesce.
In Nigeria, the prices of matured snails of about 4 – 10 pieces, go for N400, N600 and N1000 respectively depending on its size. However, the annual demand for snail in Nigeria is generally on the increase daily. As it creates a big opportunity for one to make good cash.
Suitable Snail Species for Snail Farming
The Giant African Land snails (GAL) are species of very large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae. Giant African land snails though hermaphrodites, two snails are needed for breeding and are high prolific breeders.
Phase 1 of Project
The initial improvised pen/snailery (housing facility), and snails was provide by me while the second phase of the snailery with its wider facility was provided with the support of my parents. The project which began in April 2016, is suited in my hometown of Umuelele Irete, Owerri West Local Governement Area of Imo State. The double snaileries was built on a space of 23fts x 20fts. A 15fts x 10fts for the open mini paddocks and an 8fts x10fts enclosed mini paddocks snaileries The initial harvest of snails from the farm was in November 2016. Currently there are about 2000 fingerlings and juveniles (growers) on the farm with no mature breeders.
- The youths are reluctant in acquiring the skill as they are deterred by its long developmental period and consider it less viable
- Lack of startup capital
- Concerns over limited space to carry out the project