What You Need To Know About Snail Farming
Snail farming does not require a lot of money to start. With Ksh. 60,000 you can set up your small snail farm. This money is enough to buy greenhouse polythene, wire mesh, plastic basins as well as the snails. You will also need a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service which can be acquired at Ksh. 1,500.
There are a wide variety of snails which can be sourced locally or from the Kenya Wildlife Service. You don’t need many snails to start your venture, as few as 10 snails are enough. A snail produces 300 to 500 eggs in three months, which hatch after 11 to 15 days, enabling one to increase their population faster. It is recommended to rear between 15 to 25 snails per m2.
Snails can be farmed using the natural weather in humid and rainy climatic zones or in greenhouses. They thrive in cool temperatures and wet surfaces; this is why they multiply during the rainy season.
To practice snail farming, you will use plastic basins; which must be filled with soil and sprinkled with water to remain moist. Snails are fed on locally grown vegetables and fruits in particular, Sukuma wiki, spinach, carrots, watermelon, pawpaw and water. Kitchen waste can be fed to snails but it shouldn’t contain table salt. Crushed egg shells and lime stone are good supplements for calcium.
Snails mature after six months. They attain sexual maturity at 14 to 20 months and will weigh between 100-450 grams depending on the species and feeding. For instance, giant African snails can grow up to 20 cm in length. Snails have an average lifespan of 5-7 years, but with good management, they can live up to 10 years.
The most dangerous enemy to snails are ants which get into the shell and feed on their tentacles; and make them dry and die. Other predators include lizards, rats, ground beetles, termites, caterpillars, spiders and flies. It is important to keep pests under control. However, do not use sprays to kill pests as this may interfere with the snails. Pests may be controlled by maintaining cleanliness.
Snails have a huge market in West Africa and Europe. Snail meat is a good source of protein, iron and calcium and is relatively low in cholesterol levels. A kilo of snail is sold from Ksh2,000 to Ksh2,500. In Kenya, you can supply snails to high-end hotels, restaurants, some supermarkets as well as to Kenyans of foreign origin.
To prepare them for the market, place the snails in water and boil it until the slime comes out, boil again, then scoop with a special spoon, pack and freeze, ready for the market.