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How To Start A Profitable Snail Farm In Ghana

Updated: Nov 17, 2023


Snail farming in ghana


Engaging in snail farming presents young entrepreneurs in Ghana with one of the most lucrative opportunities in agriculture. This practical and viable business venture is yet to be fully explored not only in Ghana but also in the broader West African region. The annual import of approximately 20,000 tons of snails into Ghana underscores the substantial demand for snails in the country. This post aims to equip you with the essential knowledge required to initiate and run a profitable snail business in Ghana.


Why Snail Farming?


Unlike other livestock production which requires huge housing structures, snail farming can be done at the backyard of your residence, on a different part of your farm and anywhere that is cool enough to house the snails away from direct sunlight.

Snail farming requires a low capital and cost of production, it also gives you enough time during the day to go about other activities and still meet your household protein demand. Snail farming business is also highly profitable as the demand for the snails and it's bi products is very high! For anyone just starting out in snail farming, it requires little but valuable knowledge to commence operations unlike other livestock farming where you need to probably undergo training.


However, it’s necessary to consult an expert in the field to avoid having high morbidity and other loss of investment. Our team of experts will be more than happy to assist you.



WHAT IS SNAIL FARMING?


Backyard snail farm

Heliculture, commonly known as snail farming, involves the cultivation of edible land snails, primarily for human consumption or cosmetic purposes.


Each snail exhibits both female and male reproductive organs, making them hermaphrodites capable of procreating fertile eggs.


In terms of nutritional benefits, snails serve as a rich source of essential elements such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and protein. Additionally, they are low in cholesterol, sodium, and fats.


In Ghana, snail farming is recognized as a sustainable agribusiness that proves to be highly economical. A modest investment is sufficient for a small start-up to yield returns from the snail farm. However, for enhanced profitability, scaling up your investment to a larger operation is recommended.


Although snail farming in Ghana holds significant untapped potential, it is currently practiced by a limited number of farmers. Some perceive that snails can be easily obtained from bushes and forests during the rainy season, overlooking the challenges faced during the dry seasons.


This underscores the importance of encouraging and exploring snail farming as a viable business opportunity in Ghana and West Africa as a whole. Despite the prevalent abundance of snails due to favorable weather conditions, the untapped potential during dry seasons emphasizes the need to promote and invest in snail farming as a sustainable and lucrative venture.


Requirements For Snail Farming Business


Snail farming business as earlier stated requires little capital to begin.

Unlike other livestock production which requires huge housing structures, snail farming can be done at the backyard of your residence, on a different part of your farm and anywhere that is cool enough to house the snails away from direct sunlight.

Snails are environmental friendly although care must be taken when rearing them on or close to a vegetable or crop farm as they can crawl out and feast on the crops due to their love for leaves and fruits.

Snail farming also requires little man power and feeding them is relatively cheap; almost free. Listed below are the things needed to start out as snail farmer:

  • Snail pen

  • Regular water supply

  • Treated and well aerated soil

  • Brooms, dust pans for cleaning the snail pen

  • Mosquito nets and wire gauze

  • Tray for feeding the snails

  • Shed or perforated covering for snails


UNDERSTANDING SNAIL BREEDS


Snails come in various species, colors, sizes, and shapes. In Ghana, we have Achatina Achatina (Nwapa), which is the most popular because of its economic size, there is Achatina Marginata and Achatina fulica which is very common in the bushes, forests and households. At full maturity, Achatina Achatina(AA) snails typically lay 200 eggs per batch. In ideal climates, lay 5-6 batches per year, therefore 1000-1200 eggs per year!

They can reach up to 20 cm (8 inches) in length and 10 cm (4 inches) in maximum diameter.

Achatina Marginata is the second best alternative when it comes to snail farming in ghana. Once stocked & well managed, Achatina marginata snails lay between 6-14 eggs every 3 months, multiplying to about x10 of its original number in 6 months.


Creating the Ideal Habitat for Your Snail Farm

Snails thrive in environments with specific temperature, humidity, and soil conditions. Ensure that your snailery provides adequate shade, proper ventilation, and protection from extreme weather conditions. Use loamy soil with good drainage and maintain the right moisture level to create an ideal habitat that promotes snail health and reproduction.

Soil Attributes The soil plays a pivotal role in providing the necessary conditions for snails to thrive. When selecting a site for snail farming, it is crucial to consider soil composition, water content, and texture.

  • The primary component of a snail's shell is calcium, sourced from both the soil and their feed.

  • Snails fulfill a significant portion of their water needs through the soil.

  • Snails burrow into the soil for egg-laying and seek refuge during dry spells.

Given these factors, it is imperative that the soil be loose, with high calcium and water content.


Avoid these types of soil:

  • heavy, clayey soils prone to waterlogging in the rainy season and compaction in the dry season.

  • Overly sandy soil is also unsuitable due to its limited water retention capacity.

  • It is advisable to avoid acidic soils, as acidity can hinder shell development. Lime can be used to neutralize soils that are excessively acidic, adjusting the pH to around 7.

Soils rich in organic matter provide an optimal environment for snail growth. Generally, if a soil supports the flourishing growth of cocoyam, tomatoes, and leafy vegetables, it is conducive to snail farming.

  • Prior to introducing snails to a site, it is essential to loosen the soil through proper tilling.

  • Snails thrive in damp, not excessively wet, environments. Wet or waterlogged soil should be drained, and rainwater should be promptly dispersed. Snails breathe air and may drown in overly moist surroundings. Maintaining a soil moisture content of around 80% of field capacity is favorable. High air humidity, exceeding 80%, during the night encourages active snail behavior and growth.

The majority of snail activity, including feeding, occurs during the night, peaking 2 to 3 hours after dusk. The cooler temperatures stimulate activity, and the night-time dew facilitates the snail's movement. During the day, snails prefer to hide in sheltered areas. In regions like Ghana, shredded semi-dry banana leaves are often placed in snail pens to provide hiding spots for the snails during daylight hours.

Designing your snailery: The design and dimensions of your snailery, or snaileries, are contingent upon the chosen snail growing system and the intended snail production volume.

Regarding housing, your snail farm could adopt an extensive, semi-intensive, or intensive system, each escalating in complexity, management, and financial requirements. Three viable options include:

  • Extensive System: Outdoor, free-range snail pens.

  • Mixed or Semi-Intensive System: Controlled environment for egg laying and hatching; young snails transferred to outdoor pens for growth or fattening after 6-8 weeks.

  • Intensive System: Closed systems, such as plastic tunnel houses, greenhouses, or buildings with controlled climates.

Irrespective of the snail farm's size or type, the housing system must fulfill specific conditions. It must be:

  • Escape-Proof: Snails are adept at escaping, and without proper measures, they may wander into neighboring gardens or houses.

  • Spacious: Commensurate with the snails' growth stage (hatchlings, juveniles, breeding snails, or mature snails fattened for consumption). Overcrowding hinders development and increases the risk of diseases.

  • Accessible and User-Friendly: For tasks like handling snails, placing feed, cleaning, and other activities.

  • Protected: From insects, predators, and potential poachers.

Various materials can be used to construct snaileries, considering factors such as price and availability:

  • Decay- and termite-resistant timber (e.g., iroko, opepe, ekki).

  • concrete blocks or mudbricks.

  • Galvanized sheets, polythene sheets.

  • Chicken wire for protection.

  • Mosquito nets or nylon mesh for covering pens to guard against insects.

  • Second-hand materials like car tires, oil drums, and old water tanks.

For simple snaileries, materials like discarded car tires and oil drums can be repurposed:

  • Car Tires or Oil Drums:

Housing snails in tire
Housing snails in old car tires

Stacked tires with chicken wire and mosquito mesh or oil drums with drainage holes, filled with good soil. Suitable for keeping a small number of snails near the house for personal use.

Additionally, specific pen types, such as hutch boxes, may be considered for straightforward snail farming setups:

  • Hutch Boxes

Wooden boxes with lids, elevated on stilts, fitted with protectors to deter vermin. An opening covered with wire netting and nylon mesh allows access. Hutch boxes, filled with sieved black soil, should be shielded from extreme weather conditions.

Snail farming system using wooden boxes

Characteristics of a Good Snail Habitat

Your snail housing must have enough space for your snails to graze freely. Overcrowding your snailery impedes the development of snails and therefore should be avoided. A well-spaced snail housing reduces the risk of disease outbreaks caused by overcrowding.

A good snail housing should be able to protect against predators, poachers and insect infestation . Predators feed on young snails whereas poachers steal snails. As for insects, they lay their eggs on the snails: these eggs develop to the larvae stage, and then feed on the snails from inside their shells, thereby causing high snail mortality leading to loss of investment. Again, your snail house must be easily accessible for carrying out management activities. Snail housing should be built in such a way that will enable managers to handle snails, place feed, carry out cleaning activities, and other tasks. The snail housing must prevent snails from escaping. No matter how slow snails can be, they can still wander off through open spaces and invade your house or garden. Therefore, all possible snail escape routes should be tightly closed. Snail housing must be well ventilated and provided with adequate shade.


Feeding and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is fundamental to the health and growth of your snails. Snails are herbivores, and their diet should consist of a variety of green, leafy vegetables, fruits, and calcium-rich supplements. Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for shell development, reproduction, and overall vitality.

Provide food and water for your snails twice daily, both in the morning and at night. Offer a diverse diet consisting of plantain, pumpkin, potato, lettuce, pawpaw, cabbage, banana, cucumber, and other suitable options.

Snails commonly consume meal leftovers and green leaves devoid of salt. The inclusion of calcium is essential for shell development. Therefore, incorporate limestone and eggshells into their feeds. A widely adopted feed among commercial snail farmers is moringa leaves and powder. Renowned for its medicinal properties and high protein & calcium content, moringa is a valuable nutritional resource. Fresh moringa leaves possess protein levels equivalent to that of an egg, while dried moringa leaves boast four times more protein.


Breeding and Reproduction

Understanding the reproductive cycle of snails is key to maintaining a sustainable farm. Snails are hermaphrodites, meaning each snail has both male and female reproductive organs. However, they still require a mate to reproduce. Provide the right conditions for mating, ensure proper egg-laying sites, and monitor the hatching process to boost the reproductive success of your snail farm.

When snails reach sexual maturity, typically between 8 to 12 months after being hatched, they lay eggs that hatch within a span of 4 to 6 weeks.


Although there isn't a specific breeding season for snails, you can anticipate approximately 5 to 6 clutches of eggs annually. Each clutch typically contains an average of 200 eggs, provided they are placed under favorable conditions.


The newly hatched snails can remain in the soil for up to 5 days. Upon hatching, it is advisable to place them in a separate enclosure from the mature snails, ensuring they have ample space and protection for optimal growth.


While this stage might pose certain challenges, this is offset by the market value and the prolific reproductive nature of snails, ultimately compensating for the time invested.


Pest and Disease Management

While snails are generally hardy creatures, they can be susceptible to pests and diseases. Regularly inspect your snailery for signs of pests, such as mites or predatory insects, and implement control measures promptly. Additionally, maintain good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of diseases among your snail population.


At times, it might be necessary to cover the soil surface in your snail pen with dried leaves, a process known as mulching, to provide a shelter for your snails. Before introducing these dried leaves to your snail pen, it's essential to wash them in hot water. This practice helps eliminate insects and their eggs that may be attached to the leaves.


The same precaution should be taken for fresh leaves and vegetables that you cut to feed your snails – ensure they are thoroughly washed in clean water.


Additionally, it is advisable to remove leftovers from your snail pens daily. Leftovers act as attractants for various predators, especially ants and rodents.


Snails face threats from various predators, including turkeys, geese, chickens, ants, snakes, lizards, and termites. While snails are not typically linked to many diseases, problems related to bacteria and fungi may arise in pens that are overcrowded.

Toads, frogs, birds, weasels, skunks, moles, mice, and rats serve as carriers of fungi, nematodes, and other pathogens that can spread through contact. It is crucial to remain vigilant about pest activity and relocate your snails from the pens when deemed necessary.

In a broader sense, maintaining cleanliness on your snail farm is crucial for optimal conditions.

Harvesting Techniques

Knowing when and how to harvest your snails is critical for optimizing profits. Typically, snails are ready for harvest when they reach a desirable size and their shells harden. Harvest them carefully to avoid stress and injury, and employ humane and efficient methods to prepare them for market.

Snails typically require an average of two years to achieve full maturity. To determine their maturity, examine the rim of the shell. Snails with a hard and thick shell are considered mature. It is crucial to harvest snails only when they have reached this mature stage.


However, the process becomes a bit intricate when it comes to harvesting for market sale while also preserving some for future breeding. The snails earmarked for breeding will serve as the foundational stock. Various tools such as baskets, boxes, bowls, and containers can be employed to facilitate the harvesting of snails.


snail farmer


Cost of Starting A Snail Farming Business in Ghana

Many new businesses require a large capital outlay, which is not within reach of most business owners. A typical startup business also takes a long time to produce a good return on investment.


By contrast, a small-scale snail business has a relatively low start-up cost and rapid returns.

The mandatory expenses you need to account for if you’re wondering how to set up a snail farm include: housing, buying fresh snails, feeding, handling, and processing the snails, marketing, and transportation.

Depending on how big you want your snail farm to be, you can start with GH₵500 or GH₵2000. You may create 1,500 snails valued over GH₵22,000 twice a year if you start with only 50 snails.

This is made possible because of the availability of very highly prolific Achatina achatina species of snails, which lay 200 – 400 in one batch two-three times a year. If you produce 50,000 snails that sell for GH₵15.00 each, which is GH₵15.00 X 50,000, you will be making GH₵750,000. You can harvest twice in a year and make GH₵1,500,000 per annum or even more


For beginners, creating a snail farming business plan is a crucial step that needs to be accomplished before starting. This will give you a deep understanding of the business.

You can begin with as little as GH₵ 500 (which basically to covers the cost of buying the snails and feeding them) and get a 100% return on your capital investment within six months.


Conclusion

Snail farming is a low-risk industry in terms of cost and time. Snail farming, unlike many other animal companies, has low startup and operation expenditure. Save money on farmland, you can even set up your snail farm in the backyard of your home.

The rainy season, especially from July to October, is the optimum time to establish a snail farm because that is when snails generally begin to breed. It’s also worth noting that snail prices skyrocket during the dry season, which runs from March to December. You can definitely take advantage of that and produce snails during the dry season through a good management system.

Kantanka farms wishes you the best of luck in a successful snail business. You can always contact us to source your point of lay snails. We have AA(Achatina Achatina) and AM(Achatina Marginata)

1 Comment


wen.whit.wh
Dec 26, 2023

Very beautiful and wonderful business. I will love to go into it . Any contact numbers for further and better communication.

Thank you

Winslow is my name

0249448999 is my contact


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