Snail farming is a very lucrative alternative in livestock business. It has become a profitable business in Nigeria because it was often overlooked by farmers. But, just like every other business out there, there are disadvantages and advantages to the business. Let’s discuss some of these pros and cons that a prospective farmer in Nigeria might face.
PROS OF SNAIL FARMING
Snails are environment-friendly because unlike poultry or pigs, neither the snail nor its droppings smell offensively. Snails can also be reared in backyards.
Capital, technical, labour and financial inputs in simple snail farming are relatively low compared to those in other types of livestock farming (poultry, pigs, goats, sheep, cattle).
Snail meat is a good source of protein. It is rich in iron and calcium but low in fat and cholesterol compared to other protein sources like poultry and pigs.
Snail farming can yield quick cash if the farmer understands the ins-and-outs of the trade and the type of species that are in high demand in Nigeria and abroad. A farmer can start with N 100,000 or N 150,000 depending on the size of his farm. If the farmer should breed fifty thousand snails in his farm for two years and sells at a rate of N 200 each, the farmer will get about N 10 million at the end of the breeding period.
CONS OF SNAIL FARMING
Without expensive artificial means of climate control, snail farming is restricted to the humid tropical forest zone which offers a constant temperature, high relative humidity, preferably no dry season and a fairly constant day/night rhythm throughout the year.
Snail meat is considered a delicacy by some, whereas others will not even touch it for religious or cultural reasons.
Snails are relatively slow-growing animals. Furthermore the consumable meat makes up only 40% (maximum!) of the snail’s total live weight. Consequently snail farming is not a way to make money quickly!
Snails as a pest
Snails that have escaped from a farm or been dumped by a farmer may quickly develop into serious pest in agriculture and horticulture.
For these reasons it must be emphasised that snail farming should be seen as only one component in a diversified farming venture. However, with patience, good management and careful integration into existing farming activities, snail farming can provide substantial longer-term rewards.
Before embarking on snail farming make sure you have a market! This may seem self evident; but there are many examples of cases in which Giant African Land Snails (GALS) were introduced to other parts of the world for farming. but were eventually dumped (or allowed to escape) into the wild for lack of market.
Once the snails have been introduced, dumped or allowed to escape, they develop into a serious agricultural pest. Without any natural enemies they end up destroying a wide range of agricultural and/or horticultural crops and causing considerable economic damage.
Giant African snails are considered a delicacy by people accustomed to consuming them. whereas other people, even within the same country, will not even touch, let alone eat them. For that reason. don’t start farming snails unless you are absolutely sure someone will buy or eat them.