Welcome to our first series on snail farming, Heliculture is another unique and profitable business in Nigeria, it can also be started on a variety of scales, from small to large depending on your capital. In this series we would be looking at what it takes to start a snail farming business in Nigeria.
Snails are invertebrate (without bone), shell bearing that are passive or inactive during the day but very active in the night, at dusk or when it rains and usually found in a cool place. In West Africa countries, snail is being considered as a delicacy and a blessing because of the following benefits:
i. Snail rearing is a good source income; and capital for setting is relative low compared to other livestock’s: poultry, fish farming, cattle and goat production, etc.
ii. Snail farming does not constitute any nuisance to the environment, the droppings are generally firm, odourless, easily cleared and cleaned.
iii. Snail is noiseless, easy to handle and not aggressive.
iv. Snail meat is a good source of animal protein of high biological value. The protein content ranges between 16-18%.
v. Calcium and iron from snail meat contribute immensely to the building of good bones especially for the baby.
vi. The low fat content and low cholesterol level makes snail meat a good antidote for cardio vascular disease such as heart attack, cardiac arrest, hypertension and stroke.
vii. A mixture of snail’s blood (bluish fluid found when snail shell is broken from the rear) and palm kernel oil in equal parts when rubbed on the body reduces the severity of stroke or hemiplegia and severe headache.
viii. Soup prepared with snail meat is good for pregnant women for easy movement of the foetus, easy delivery and good source of iron for nursing mother.
ix. The shell of snail could be used for ornamental purposes.
x. The shell could be used to replace bone meal, oyster shell in compounding ration for animal and livestock.
xi. Snails farming could be combined with other business and reared at the backyard.
xii. Snail feeds are cheap and easily sourced.
Common Breeds of Snail
There are different breeds of edible land snails found in Nigeria. The common ones are:
(b) Archachatina marginata: Africa giant land snail (Yoruba: “Igbin Apinnu”, Igbo” Ejuna”, Hausa: “Kodi”).
The shell has no definite coloration and it is wider at the posterior end compared to others. It is bigger in size than others. The fleshy part is dark-brown in color. Mature adult can reach 600gm-800gm and is more adapted to unfavorable climatic condition than Achatina achatina. It is the most common breed found in South Western Nigeria. There are two types: i) Big black snail
ii) Big white snail
The Black snail is readily available in all the markets.
(b) Achatina achatina (Ilako): This breed is mostly common in Ghana, Republic of Benin, River and Akwa- Ibom State in Nigeria and other parts of Southern Nigeria.
In South-Western Nigeria, the mortality rate of this breed is higher than A.marginata. It prefers more humid environment and the shell is broadly ovate with regular conical spine and narrow at the posterior end.
Mature ones could reach 600gm. It lays 150-450eggs per clutch with a size of between 0.3gm-0.7gm each. The fleshy part (foot) is dark with white patches.
c) Achatina fulica (‘Ilakose’, “Esan”): It is small in size. Mature adult weighs between 20gm-35gm. The fleshy part could be whitish or dark-brown. It lays 10-15 eggs per clutch. The egg weight is between 0.6gm-1.4gm. The egg is bigger than that of Achatina achatina. It has lower economical value compared to Archatina marginata and Achatina achatina.
d) Limicolaria spp. (‘Ipere’): It is the smallest specie of common edible land snails. It lays 25-35eggs/clutch. The eggs are very tiny, 25 eggs weigh less than one gramme.
The breed requires humid environment and thrives well on decay materials.
Criteria for the Selection of Site
i. The land must be flat with adequate shade
ii. The soil should be humus or loamy that can support vegetable growth. It must be rich in organic matter and not water –logged or acidic.
Snails prefer medium to light soil. Clayey and sandy soils are not advisable to be used as bedding in the snailery (Snail house). Sandy loamy or garden soil is the best soil because of its high organic matter content and ease of making hole for egg deposition. Clayey soil is too compacted and will make the snails to lay eggs on the surface of the soil, it could also be water-logged. Acidic soil should not be used.
In the next series we will be looking at the various housing types one can use for his snail farm and their various advantages and disadvantages.