In West Africa, snail meat is a valued delicacy that calls for celebration. The same is not true for the East African communities.
Even with such notions, snail farming in Kenya is starting to gain popularity. In the western region of the country, farmers have embraced snail farming making good financial gains.
Rosemary Odinga is one such farmer. Her visit to Nigeria introduced her to snail farming and has never looked back. Increased awareness about snail farming by JKUAT and Dr. Kinoti of Bio snail farming. Has moved farmers to try snail farming on a small scale.
Do you want to become a snail farmer? Here are the guidelines for this interesting venture.
1. Capital Investment
Before you can begin your snail farming venture. One has to undertake a free course at JKUAT on snail farming. This gives you the desired knowledge to avoid you becoming a danger to the animals you intend to rear.
Since snails are under the Management Act 2013, which protects them. To become a farmer you have to apply for a permit controlled by the Kenya Wildlife Services. The permit costs Ksh; 1,500 ($15).
Farmers are required to submit quarterly reports to KWS about the growth and state of animals. The Kenya Wildlife Service makes regular audits of the farms to ensure proper standards are maintained.
Snail meat is delicate to produce the need for safety control measures. Snail farmers get certified every time they make their sale to their prospective buyers. This ensures high-quality maintenance of the product.
2. Type of Snails
There are two types of snails for breeding the African snail and the Asian snails. The Giant African snail is the most reared in Kenya. Asian snails are bred in Kenya but their small size makes them an unfavorable choice to many farmers.
3. Suitable Location
Snails adapt to whatever environment they are exposed to. Snails thrive best in a humid and hot environment. The locations should remain moist, shady, and away from predators.
4. Snail Husbandry
Snails need care like any other living organisms to thrive at their best.
Raise the brooding structure when using greenhouse paper. Cover the house with wire mesh to prevent predators’ entry.
Snails are a sumptuous meal to lizards, rats, termites, spiders, and even ground beetles. Be intentional in proofing your shelter from these predators. Snails move a lot in their natural habitat, so provide ample space for their movement.
Ensuring the space is dark, moist, isolated from hot spots, and has enough basking area. Feed your snails with vegetables and fruits.
Moist soils are favorable to allow barrowing for the snails. Snail feed on vegetables making their diet contains 80 percent water.
Snails are hermaphrodites making them asexual animals. So making their reproduction process fast and easy. Snails produce 300 – 400 eggs within three months making for their high increase in population.
A mature snail is six months old and ready for sale. Fun fact, after six months they continue to grow but upon reaching the 12-month growth become stagnant.
Current snail meat price stands at Ksh; 1,500 per Kg without shells and with shells at Ksh; 3,000 per Kg. These prices make snail farming a lucrative business with good returns on investment. The international demand for snails as a delicacy is high not meeting the supply equation.
France and Australia consume high quantities of snails both as a delicacy and by-product. Making it lucrative produce for export markets. The Kenyan market is filled with hotels and expatriates living in the country who enjoy snails as a delicacy.
7. Health Benefits
Snails contain a high protein level making them a good source of food and other minerals. Contents of protein go up to 15 percent, 3 percent fat, and 80 percent water. Meat is also rich in vitamins E, B12, K, and A.
Other minerals include calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and selenium.