5 Important Tips to Maximize Profit in the Snail Farming Business in Nigeria
Heliciculture, commonly known as snail farming, is the process of raising edible land snails, primarily for human consumption or cosmetic use. The meat and snail eggs can be consumed as escargot and as a type of caviar respectively. Mucus, commonly known as snail slime, has medical properties and is used in cosmetics. Humans have been consuming snails for thousands of years. Snails are very high in proteins, iron, and water while being low in fat. Snail consumption is popular in various countries around the world. Currently, the global snail farming or heliciculture industry achieves sales of greater than $12 billion annually. People who eat snails find snails to be delicious as the main course or as an appetizer. There are plenty of recipes, especially in Nigeria and other African countries, that include snails. Finding snails on the menu is common in elite restaurants and hotels in Nigeria. Snails are also used in various types of soups and stews.
Snail farming is a niche and an unusual business, and successful snail farmers in Nigeria are enjoying the huge rewards of this lucrative but little-known venture. Most of the snails supplied to the African market are gathered from bushes and forests during the rainy season (usually between April and September). Because snails are very dormant during the dry season, they become increasingly scarce during this period and the market is starved of adequate supply until the next wet season. This makes the supply of snails very seasonal in many parts of Africa where they serve as food. As a consequence, snails can fetch much higher prices during the dry season (December to March) when supply often does not keep up with demand.
In this article, it is my intention to focus not to focus on “How to start snail farming”, which presuppose that this article was written with those who are already into snail farming in mind. That is not to say that other people cannot benefit from it. That being said, this article focuses on 5 important tips to maximize your profit if (and when) you are into the business.
Tip #1: Get things right from the onset
Like any other farm business, snail farming in Nigeria has some problems to be overcome if you want to make a profit from the business. For instance, Snail Farming may be affected by possible pests and other diseases if the right form practices, are not followed, which can harm the snail. There are practices and procedures that are very peculiar and specific to snail farming – it is your responsibility to find out and get information about such practices and procedures, and ensure they are followed on your snail farm.
What I will strongly recommend here is that you do a very professional feasibility study and do personal research about snail farming – gather as much information as possible and do not assume that the business is easy or will thrive on the ignorance of things you should have known or learned. In fact, going into the business blindly (or with an unguided passion because you have heard it is lucrative) can cost you much more than you are will to pay.
Tip #2: Choose the right snail species for breeding
For maximum results, it is advised to breed snails of the same species. There are different species of snails, and not all are suitable for snail farming and not all species are profitable. Some species are more economical to breed and more profitable than others. Also, not all species of snail are consumed as meat. To have an active farm that will give the farmer an optimum profit, it is recommended you farm the Archatina Marginata (Giant West Africa Snail) and Achatina Achatina (Giant Africa Snail). These are edible land snails that grow big and fast if supplied with enough food and housed in a professionally constructed snail pen. The slime or mucus produced by these species of snails is also used by the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. While the Achatina snails lay small eggs 4-10 mm in diameter, in batches of 20 – 400, the Archatina snails lay larger eggs 12-20 mm in diameter, in batches of 6 – 20. When choosing your snails for breeding, you’re to look for fresh, weighty/heavy, and sexually matured ones. Their Shells should be hard and free from nodes, patches, and damages. The reason is they’re resistant to many diseases, suitable water for growth, they are big naturally lay many eggs; they can lay up to over one thousand eggs every year. This form of reproduction is what makes the snail farming business highly profitable.
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Tip #3: Adequate feeding, growth watch, and disease control
Snails have high disease resistance and are easy to manage, yet it does not mean you should take chances. When poorly managed, snail mortality and poor growth may arise. Ensure you provide food when it’s due, prevent rodents, ants, and other reptiles from entering the Snail Farm. If you want to make a profit in snail farming, you must pay attention to their feeding, growth, and development. There are several diseases associated with snail farming. Here are some of the diseases associated with snail farming in Nigeria.
- Egg problem
- Snail inactivity
- Discoloration in new Shell
- Reproduction problems
- Irregular growth of the shell
- Thin and fragile shell
You are responsible to watch out and ensure that your snails feed well and are not exposed to conditions that may infect them with any disease or infections.
Tip #4: Don’t be foolish when it’s time to sell
Knowledge, they say is power. Just like we said in Tip #1, you must seek after knowledge to succeed in snail rearing business and any area of ignorance becomes an avenue to make losses instead of profits. When it is time to sell, how strategic you are about marketing your products will go a long way to affect your profitability. How many contacts have you made? How many companies, individuals are aware that you own a snail farm, a shaky or unproductive marketing strategy leads to nothing but loss. You should have a good marketing strategy, one that will see your snails already booked before they are fully matured. A good marketing plan is very important in making a profit in snail farming. With the right kind of knowledge and exposure, you should have little or no challenge in marketing and selling your snails as they can be sold in every local and urban market. The demand for snail in Nigeria and Africa is quite large and increasing. The demand has grossly surpassed the supply of snail and their by-products.
One major key to high profitability in snail farming is the timing of your sales. If this is done right, the time you choose to sell your product will prove to be a joker to high profitability. During the dry season, snails are generally scarce leading to the market being starved of supply. Even in wet seasons, the supply is not enough due to the very little number of snail farmers. As a consequence, snails can fetch much higher prices during the dry season (December to March). With all that being said, it makes a lot of sense to take maximum advantage of this market and plan your sales towards the dry season when the supply of snails is significantly short, especially if you do not have the capacity to supply snails all year round.
Tip #5: Ensure the continuity of your farm
Snails mature anywhere in-between six to eight months of breeding when managed and maintained very well. “When is snail good for harvesting?” is a regular question in snail farming. It is not advisable to harvest your snails before they reach maturity. When they have fully matured, the brim of a snail’s shell becomes thicker and harder than the other parts of the shell. Do not harvest all the mature snails at once for marketing. You should try to keep a few to stock your snail farm for the continuity of your farm.
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