Heliciculture, also known as heliculture, commonly known as snail farming, is the process of raising land snails specifically for human use, either to use their flesh as edible escargot, or more recently, to obtain snail slime for use in cosmetics, or snail eggs for human consumption as a type of caviar. – Wikipedia.
Snail farming is a very popular and lucrative agricultural business individuals can venture into due to its low capital intensity and presently it is providing one of the finest opportunity to make money within a short period of time.
Humans have been consuming snails for thousands of years. Snail consumption is popular in various countries around the world as snail has a huge demand in Nigeria market for instance because of its unique taste and nutritional value.
Currently, the global snail farming or heliciculture industry achieves sales of greater than $12 billion annually. Let’s take a closer look at the consumption of snails and the basics of starting a snail farm.
Snail meat contain a high amount of protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and very low in fat. Snail pie is recommended as a cheap source of protein and iron for school-age children and young mothers and could contribute in the fight against iron deficiency anaemia.
1. Snail farming is not high capital intensive
2. Snail is a good source of protein.
3. It contains low fat & cholesterol levels.
4. It maintains low mortality
Benefits of Snail Farming Business
- It’s a Good foreign exchange earner
- The shell
- Traditional medicine etc.
Read Also: Ways to make more Money as a Snail Farmer
Processes involved in Snail Farming Business
According to recent detialed research, below are some of the proccesses involved in running a successful snail farming business or venture:
This is where many farmers fail because they hardly know much about the business they are venturing into.
So first of all, get all the knowledge about the business, understand the business idea, breed type, likes problem you might face, disease, feeds, plants and vegetable, do’s and don’ts, marketing, viablity and the different challenges that may arise in the process of running the business.
Once you gathered enough knowledge about snail farming in Nigeria. You can also visit other snail farms to get an idea of operating a snail farm. Then you can then move on to the next stage.
2. Physical Environment of the Farm
One of the most important factors in snail farming is the physical environment of your snail farm. Your snail farm must be properly chosen and selected and situated in an environment that is free from predators, diseases and bacteria that may be harmful to your snail farm. Make sure there are plants or tress to shield the snails from direct sunlight and winds.
3. The Soil Type and texture
The soil plays a major role in the life cycle of the snail, because the snail derives the calcium and other nutrients needed for the formation of its shell from the soil and also the soil plays a major role in the hatching of the snail eggs.
Because snails bury their eggs inside the soil for hatching. So therefore the best soil used for snail breeding is the type that has low water retention capacity that is, it doesn’t retain too much water. A perfect soil type for snail breeding is sandy-loamy soil.
4. The pen for snail
When building a pen for snail farming, you need to ask yourself the type of snail farming you intend to practice, are you looking at an intensive or extensive farm system. Are you looking at a very big farm, a commercial farm, free range or a caged system?
5. Sourcing for snails
Snails can easily be sourced either from the forest or from reputable snail farms around you. Make sure they are very active and they haven’t been exposed to too much sunlight to avoid stress which might affect their survival and breeding capability.
The best time to source for snail in the forest during the raining season, snails are known to be more active in the night and morning when it rains.
6. Building the Snail House (Snailery)
Snail houses can vary depending on the type of snail breeding practices you intend to practice and the amount of available space at your disposal. It could vary from a little cupboard space at the back of your house to a room side pen to a full plot of land or more depending on your capacity.
When constructing a pen , you should avoid over population and give enough room for the snails to move around. Also make sure the spaces are well guarded to prevent them from attacks from rodents, ants and snakes and also to prevent the snails from escaping.
Make sure the pens are surrounded with plants that can serve as a cover crop because snails love cool and dark places.
7. Snail Foods and Feeding
Snails mostly feed on vegetables, plants and fruits. In modern farming, there are formulated feeds rich in calcium that has been specially prepared for snails which makes them grow faster.
Snails feeds on a variety of crops like pawpaw leaves, cabbage and lettuce, okra leave, water leave, water melon, pawpaw, cucumber, banana and the list goes on.
8. Breeding the snail for market
Snails takes averagely between 6 to 12 months to get to marketable size.
9. Marketing of your snail
Currently the demand for snail outweighs the supply. So the market is wide and readily available as the snail farmers are not currently meeting demands. Your target markets are the market women in the markets, snail farmers, pepper soup joints, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and snail lovers who cook them for special delicacies.