Snail farming in Ghana has become a lucrative business so agricultural experts are offering professional advice to prospective farmers to enable them to harvest more yield for the local and international market.
West Africa is home to the largest species of land snail in the world. The Giant African land snail (Achatina species), is known to grow up to 30cm in length and can be found in the dense tropical rain forests across the region from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Ghana to Nigeria.
Snails are a huge part of the diet in many parts of Africa, although they are not always affordable and available all year round. Their high protein, low fat and cholesterol content make them a nutritional favourite.
Snails contain almost all the amino acids needed by the body and most of its by-products are used for cosmetics and medicines.
BREEDS OF SNAILS
- Giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica) : The Giant African Snail is a 20 cm long snail native to Africa, and it is one of the largest snail species. In some places, it is considered an invasive animal because of its high reproduction rate and the voracious appetite for crops and vegetation. This is the one normally bred in Ghana.
- Garden Snail (Helix aspersa): The garden snail is a small species with a height up to 1.3 inches and a particular shell design that distinguishes it from other species. They are native to the Mediterranean region, Western Europe, part of Asia and northern Egypt.
- Roman Snail (Helix pomatia): The Roman snail has a beautiful shell that it is almost a third of its total weight. Originally native to Europe, it is found in most of the world now. It inhabits in temperate forests with humid temperatures but scanty rainfall.
Some things to consider
- In terms of cost and time, snail farming is a low risk business. Unlike many other livestock businesses, snail farming requires very little startup and operating costs.
- It can be run from your backyard (if you have a sizeable one) or on that piece of land wasting away in your neighbourhood or village.
- Snails are friendly to the environment and their droppings are not offensive (unlike pigs and poultry) so there’s no chance an angry neighbor will come knocking.
- Snails also multiply really fast laying up to 100 eggs in one go. Because snails are hermaphrodites (have both male and female sexual organs), they get to mate easily throughout the year. This high reproduction rate has made snails a pest in many regions of the world.
- Snails can give very high returns on your initial investment if you do your homework well and target niche and repeat customers.
Land site and Snailery
The shell of a snail is made up mainly of calcium derived from the soil and from feed. They also derive most of their water requirements from the soil. They dig in the soil to lay their eggs and to rest during the dry season, it is very essential to consider the type of soil to use when it comes to snail farming.
In general, if a soil supports good growth of cocoyam, tomatoes and leafy vegetables, it is suitable for snail farming. This type of soil is not water logged or acidic.
This is the place where the snails are kept. In simple terms, it is the ‘house’ for the snails.
You can use some cheap stuffs such as car tyres and oil drums to construct the snailery. Three or four tyres are placed on top of each other, with chicken wire and mosquito mesh between the topmost tyre and the second one from the top. Oil drums should have some holes in the bottom for drainage, be filled with good soil to a depth of 7-10 cm, and be fitted with wire plus mosquito mesh on top. Such pens are suitable for keeping a few snails (up to about four mature snails in each container) close to the house, for private use
The hutch box can also be used. Hutch boxes are square or rectangular, single or multi-chamber wooden boxes with lids, placed on wooden stilts above the ground at a suitable height for easy handling.
The stilts should be fitted with plastic or metal conical protectors or aprons, to prevent vermin from crawling or climbing up the stilts to attack the snails in the boxes. The protectors could be made from old tins or plastic bottles. In the middle of the lid is an opening covered with wire netting and nylon mesh.
The lid should be fitted with a padlock to discourage pilfering. In the floor of the box are a few holes through which excess water can drain out.
The boxes are filled with sieved black soil to a depth of 18-25 cm. The box(es) should obviously be well protected from scorching sun or torrential rain.
Source: smallstarter, modernghana, snailworld, wikipedia