Years ago the only way we had snails to feed on was by going into the bush and gardens after a heavy down pour or at night to hunt for them, little did we know that snails could be reared domestically just like poultry and animals like goat.

Snail farming is a very interesting business not because it is highly profitable, but because it is easy and fun, it also provides one of the best opportunities to make money within a short period of time. But why are Nigerians not fully engaged in this money making animal rearing? The reason is lack of Knowledge.

In continents like Australia and USA, snail rearing is big business, providing opportunities to many farmers. In the United Kingdom, snails can be seen in many supermarkets and stores; this means that snail rearing is a big deal over there.

However in Nigeria, a lot of people still believe that snail can only be picked in the bush or gardens. The culture of going to the bush to pick snails during raining season has been there for generations. So, it has been difficult for people to discover that snail can actually be kept and grown at home and serve as a source of income; hence we keep on suffering in hunger and poverty.

What is Snail?

Land snails belong to the class of Molluscan, Gastropod, popularly known as ‘Congo Meat’ in many parts of Africa. In some part of Nigeria, it is usually called Eju, Igbin, and so on. There are so many species of snails but the types we are looking at here are the ones that are suitable for commercial Snail Farming in Africa (Nigeria inclusive).

 Most suitable Snail for rearing in Africa

 Achatina fulica – The East African land snail, or giant African land snail, scientific name Achatina fulica is a species of large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae. It is the smallest in size among all the desirable species for rearing in Africa.
Achatina fulica has a narrow, conical shell, which is twice as long as it is wide and contains 7 to 9 whorls when fully grown. The shell is generally reddish-brown in colour with weak yellowish vertical markings but colouration varies with environmental conditions and diet. A light coffee colour is common. Adults of the species may exceed 20cm in shell length but generally average about 5 to 10cm. The average weight of the snail is approximately 32 grams.

Achatina Achatina – Achatina Achatina, commonly named the giant Ghana snail, also known as the giant tiger land snail, is a species of very large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae. Giant African land snails are hemraphrodites, meaning they possess both the female and male reproductive organs. Two snails are still needed for breeding, but they are very prolific breeders.

Similar to the other species in the genus, Achatina achatina’s shell can attain a length of 200 mm and a maximum diameter of 100 mm. They may possess between 7-8 whorls and the shell is often broadly ovate. The body of the animal is silver-brown in color although albino morphs may exist.

 Archachatina Marginata – Archachatina marginata, commonly named the giant West African snail, is a species of air-breathing tropical land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae. They can grow up to 20cm long, and live up to 10 years.

Among these three species, Achatina Achatina is the most desirable for farmers because it grows so big to become the biggest snail species in the world. Achatina Achaina has its origin from Nigeria, get to Liberia from Nigeria and then Ghana

Another reason is due to its high yield capacity. The other species are very good too but we will focus on Achatina Achatina and Archachatina Marginata in this blog post because, they are easy to find in Nigeria.

Achatina-Achatina is very good for commercialization as well, because of its profitability. This is because of the volume of eggs it lays at once. Each achatina lays 300 to 500 eggs at a time in clutches, three times a year. Therefore, if you start a farm with about 1000 snails, in one year you would be getting about 1.5 million snails going by the number of eggs they produces.

Here are some steps as to how you can setup your snail farm in a small scale level and starts rearing your snail towards harvest.

Step 1: Snail Farming Environment – Snails are easily dehydrated, and wind increase the rate of moisture loose in snail which in turn, leads to the dryness of the animal. To prevent snails from losing water so quickly, your snail house also known as snaileries, must be located in environment that is protected from wind.
A low plain, downhill site surrounded with enough trees is perfect for snail farming. You may plant plantains and bananas around your snail farm to prevent the impact of wind.

Step 2: Type of Soil for Snail Farm – Snail’s major habitat is the soil, and soil contains some of the components and chemical substances that it needed to survive. However, not all soils are suitable for snail rearing. The shell of the snail is mainly calcium which it derives most of it from the soil. Snail also lay its eggs on the soil and drinks water out of the soil. Hence, the suitable soil for snail farming must contain these elements.  It must be balanced, not waterlogged, not too dry, and must not be acidic. The most desirable soil for snail is sandy-loamy soil with low water holding capacity. Clayey soil and acidic soil must be avoided.

Step 3: Getting the Sails for Farming – To start up a snail farm, it is advisable to get snails directly from the bush, gardens or forest instead of buying from the market after they have been exposed to sunlight and have dehydrated. This is because snails drink a lot of water, so are easily dehydrated and this stresses them out, and reduces their fertility capacity.
As an intending Snail farmer, one could pick the snails from the bush with a very simple technique; clear a little portion of land during rainy season and sprinkle spicy fruits like pineapple, pawpaw, plantain, banana etc at about 5o’clock in the evening, when you go back there about 7pm or 8pm, you will pick up snails suitable for rearing. Repeat the procedure until you get enough quantity.
Another method could be to pick up snail eggs littered in the market place where it is sold and through a technique, check the fertility of the eggs, because some of them must have lost fertility due to the exposure to sunlight. The eggs are later put inside a container containing wet sand and covered with cocoyam leaf. Between 21 to 28 days, the eggs would hatch into baby snails, then start feeding them and gradually you raise a snail farm.

Step 4: The Snail House (Snailery) – Snaileries can vary from a patch of fence-protected ground, sheltered from the wind to a covered box if you are breeding in small scale.
For larger population of snails, you can dug a trench or make a concrete pen with soil deep of about 10 inches, and cover it with screen or wire all around to prevent the snails from escaping. Remember that snails can reproduce fast and become pests when their breeding is uncontrolled.
Snails love dark and cold places, but make sure the humidity does not drop to levels harmful to the snails. You can use fresh leaves and cloth that is regularly wet to regulate the temperature.
Also, the wire is useful in keeping away rats and snakes or other predators from eating the snails in your snail farm. But aside from these bigger predators, you should be wary about smaller ones like ants and termites. Your construction must have these predators in mind.

Step 5: Snails Foods and Feeding – Snails especially Achatina mainly feeds on green leaves such as; Cocoyam leaves, pawpaw leaves, okra leaves, cassava leaves, eggplant leaves, cabbage and lettuce leaves and fruits such as; Mango, eggplant, pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, oil palm fruits, pears and cucumber, though they can utilize other ranges of foods. Snails can be fed with leaves, fruits, or even formula from the feed store. Aside from food to grow tissues, snails need calcium to grow shells.
Once they start growing, separate the big ones from the small ones. It takes more than a year for the Achatina type to grow to harvest size. Others mature in two years.
Imagine harvesting one hundred thousand snails after a year or two and you sold it at a highly reduced price of N50 each, that will give you about N5 million! Wow! Isn’t that a good investment?
What Are The Merits of Snail Farming?
The merits of snail farming among others include:
1. Snail farming in Nigeria is a virgin in the kingdom of livestock as a result the earlier investors without doubt have bright prospects in exploring this venture.
2. Snail farming is a practicable and viable venture yet unexplored in Nigeria. If it has worked elsewhere, it will work in Nigeria.
3. This technology has been approved to be most lucrative farming venture presently, as it requires far less capital investment, while much profit is being generated in a considerable short period. It has lower risk compared to other livestock farming.
4. The demand for snail is higher than the supplies asuch the market potential of snail is inexhaustible, locally and internationally.
5. Virtually every part of snail is of vital use in Food, Pharmaceutical industry, manufacturing and fishing industries.
6. Snail is an export commodity, which has value next to gold in overseas countries. It is a foreign exchange income earner of our days. Our climate is one of the best in snail breeding.
7. Snail farming in Nigeria requires small capital and the running cost is very low, hence their feeds are very local.
8. If your start up capital is N100,000 you can generate the sum of one million naira in one year. Some people in other livestock may earn another N100,000, if they met no risk in a year.
9. Snail business indeed is a GEM in the livestock business. Therefore take advantage of the opportunity of being among the forerunners in this unbeatable venture.
10. You can conveniently earn income a thousand fold higher than your present earning. You can keep your present job and do this on part time since it doesn’t require much time.
11. This is a real export market that earns foreign revenue without you running from pillar to post.
12. This is not fiction but factual. Not imaginary but a reality. You too will share your view with others.
13. No stress, no time consuming, no odour, no noise and no irritation.