If you are looking for a business that you can start with very little capital and that would make you millions in a short time, then you really should start looking at snail farming. Did you know that you can export snails both on a large and small scale?
Well, you’re going to learn everything you need to know in this article. Although this article uses Nigeria as a case study, the techniques, methods and ideas shared here can be implemented in any country in the world; be it Ghana, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, etc.
Why you should start a snail business today
- Due to their high nutritional value, snails have become a very popular delicacy. The snail meat is very rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin E and vitamin C.
- The snails are also a good source of proteins. The snails are very popular among the observers of weight because they are extremely low in calories and fat. The snail meat is also very beneficial for the people suffering from cardiovascular diseases, cancer and people trying to recover from an injury.
- With a population of over 160 million people and restaurants spread out across the country, starting a snail farming business in Nigeria is really a smart decision as the demand cannot even be met by existing local farmers.
- Snail farming is not capital and management intensive, especially when compared to poultry and catfish farming. The food is easily available and you can produce it yourself, as the snails feed on the waste. You can start small from your backyard and grow from there.
Starting Snail Farm Business Plan
In the past, the only way to get snails was to go to the bushes and gardens to hunt them after a rain or at night. This was because most people did not know that snails could be raised at home like poultry and animals like chickens and goats. Raising snails is a very interesting business not only because it is a very profitable business, but because it is easy and fun.
If you are thinking about how to start a snail farming business, then you have come to the right place. The first thing you should consider is the location and environment of your snail farm.
1. Location and environment of your snail farm
The best environment to locate your snail farm is a low, downhill plain. The farm should not be exposed to excessive wind because too much wind would dry out and dehydrate your snails. It is better to have trees like bananas or plantains planted around your snail farm.
The snails cannot be raised on concrete floors. The ground of your snail farm must be of balanced ground, not too dry and not waterlogged either. You must also make sure that the soil of your snail farm is not acid or clay, because this can be harmful to the snails.
The best soil for the breeding of snails is a sandy-loam soil with low water retention. The soil of your snail farm is highly critical for the growth and the survival of the snails because the snails derive the calcium used to form their shell from the soil. They also get their water from the soil and lay their eggs in it.
Depending on the scale of snail farming you want to do, your snails can be raised in a large covered box if you are considering small-scale snail farming, or in a concrete floor pen if you want to raise snails on a large scale.
The soil should be about 10 inches deep and you should use fresh leaves or wet clothes to control the temperature of your snail farm. To protect your snails from predators and pests such as snakes, rats and termites, you should make a barbed-wire fence around your snail pen.
2. Learn all you can about snails
Knowledge is an important requirement for success in business, whether it is snail farming or any other business. To become a successful snail breeder, you need to know the best conditions to breed snails, how they reproduce (snails are hermaphrodites), how they feed and the factors that militate against their growth. In fact, you must know everything about snails.
3. To carry out a feasibility study
After obtaining the necessary knowledge about snails, you will be able to carry out the market viability for your snail farm project. Some of the questions that a feasibility report will help you answer include：
- What are the factors that militate against snail farming in Nigeria?
- How much capital is needed to establish a snail farm, supply it with snails and make it work effectively?
- Where is the best place to locate your farm and how close is it to the market?
- How much does a bag or basket of snails sell in your area?
- How long (months or years) will it take you to get your money back?
4. Prepare a business plan
After conducting the feasibility study and writing a report on its findings, you should turn your feasibility report into a business plan. A business plan is especially important when seeking external funding from banks or investors. You will also need it to access government grants and loans. A business plan will also help you plan and execute your future growth strategy.
5. Origin of the snails
You would need some snails to start your snail farm and you must make sure that they are fertile and in perfect condition. The best place to get your initial stock is in the bushes. The snails obtained directly from their natural habitat are in the best conditions because they have not been exposed to too much sunlight, which dehydrates them and makes them less fertile.
If you feel that getting snails from the bush would be too stressful for you, then you can buy snail eggs at the market and cover them with cocoyam leaves in a plastic bowl with wet sand and let them hatch.
The process of hatching would take 21 to 28 days, then you can start feeding and taking care of your baby snail and see your snails multiply in numbers because snails reproduce quickly and in great quantities. Before you rush to the market to get your snail eggs, you should know about the different species of snails and which are the best to raise.
The species of snails most adapted to the breeding are Achatina Fulica, Achatina Achatina and Archachatina Marginata, but the Achatina Achatina is the most recommended for the breeding of snails because of its high reproductive capacity. It can lay up to 500 eggs at a time and lay eggs three times a year. The Achatina Achatina is also easy to find.
6. Feeding of snails
Snails are very versatile feeders. They can feed on anything from leaves to fruit. Snails can feed on cocoyam leaves, manioc and okra leaves, cabbage, lettuce, papaya and eggplant leaves. Snails can also feed on fruits such as mangoes, bananas, papaya, tomatoes and pears.
It is important that you feed your snails the right food that would support tissue growth and supply the calcium needed for their shells to grow. There are foods specially formulated for snails on the market that you can use to feed your snails to improve their growth and productivity.
7. Collection of the snails
When harvesting your snails, it is important to handle them carefully. You can harvest them in clean plastic containers, baskets, bowls or in a box to take them to the point of sale. Do not overload the containers. 10 kg in each container is fine so that the snails are not hurt or stressed.
8. Marketing of your snails
There are different marketing opportunities for snail breeders. You can sell them to restaurants and hotels that have snail meat on their menu or sell them to men or women in the market who will buy them in wholesale quantity from you. You can also process your snails to export them to other countries.
Challenges of starting snail farming in Nigeria
The opportunities in snail farming far outweigh their challenges and problems. Apart from the challenges of raising capital, getting a good place to raise your snails, getting your food and marketing your snails; the only headache you can face is the problem of pests like ants, termites, hawks, etc. Once your environment is properly fumigated, fenced and the top covered with wire mesh, you will have no problem at all. Snails rarely get sick.