Snail farming/ heliciculture/ heliculture is the process of raising land snails specifically for human use.
- You could either use their flesh as edible escargot or, more recently, to obtain snail slime for use in cosmetics and snail eggs for human consumption as a type of caviar.
- Snails multiply really fast, laying up to 100 eggs in one go. Because they are hermaphrodites (have both male and female sexual organs), they get to mate easily throughout the year.
- If they are bred well, they should start to reach market size from six to twelve months, although some farmers like to leave theirs for much longer.
- The offered snails are available for delivery nationwide.
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Snails are an essential part of the diet of many Africans. Their high protein, low fat, and cholesterol content make them a nutritional favorite. They contain almost all the amino acids needed by the body and most of its by-products are used for cosmetics and medicines. Snail meat is much cheaper than red meat, with greater health benefits.
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.
- For several decades, Africa’s appetite for snails has been served through traditionally conventional ways. Snails handpicked from the bush (usually in the dead of the night or after a rainfall) have been the only way to get snails to the market and for meals.
- Presently, more than 90 percent of the snails supplied to our local markets are picked from the forests. While this has been the traditional supply source, our growing population and rising rural to urban migration rates make it unsustainable.
- However, as Africa’s population explodes and our forests continue to be sacrificed to build cities, the traditional supply of snails cannot keep up with the soaring demand, and modern methods need to be employed.
This has created an opportunity in the market for snail breeders and farmers who now cultivate these interesting creatures on small farms and backyards for exorbitant profits.