Snail farming is one of the top interesting business opportunities on the continent and Cameroon in particular. For some time now, what is popularly known in the country as “nyama ngoro” or “congo meat” has served as one of the top preference of many Cameroonians. Their high protein, low fat, and cholesterol content make them a nutritional favorite.
The high demand for snails at home and abroad has created an opportunity in the market. As such, Snail breeders and farmers who now cultivate these interesting creatures on small farms and in their backyards make impressive profits. In addition to its nutritive value, snails contain almost all the amino acids needed by the body.
Factors for profitable snail farming
Unlike many other livestock businesses, snail farming requires very little startup and operating costs. In terms of cost and time, snail farming is a low-risk business. Snails are friendly to the environment and their droppings are not offensive (unlike pigs and poultry). This makes it easy for anyone to rear them in a piece of land in any neighborhood.
Also, Snails 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. It’s this fast reproductive ability that makes these slow creatures a delight to an entrepreneur. But for a profitable investment, a snail farmer must consider the following factors:
A suitable place
Before getting into snail farming, the farmer must select an open piece of land where suitable plants are grown.
This would help to feed snails and they will also use it for shelter. Basically, not all crops or plants provide a suitable shed for snails, reason why coco-yam is an ideal crop for snail farming.
Take advantage of the seasonality of the market
Most of the snails supplied to the African market are gathered from bushes and forests during the rainy season. As a Small starter, your primary goal should be to take advantage of the seasonality of this market in order to gain premium prices for your snails. Target the high-end customers (hotels, and restaurants who can afford to pay a premium for a steady supply of the product.
If you supply all year round, you are likely to gain less during the rainy seasons. This is because supply is in abundance. As a result, the dry season is ideal for supplies since snails are scarce during that period.
You could buy cheaply from the villages and other remote areas while the supply is up during the rainy season . Then, maintain a healthy stock of large snails that you can sell to your customers when supply falls in the dry season.
Get sizable snails
This is a very important factor. The size of your snails must be large and ‘intimidating’ enough to command a premium (high) price. For this to happen, you must start your snail farm with the right species (the Giant African type).
You must also ensure that you apply proper breeding, stocking and feeding practices to achieve the huge sizes that will make you a highly demanded supplier. If you breed your snails well, they should start to reach a market size from six to twelve months. However, some farmers prefer to leave theirs for much longer.
As long as snails are a huge part of the diet in many parts of Africa, no one can ensure a steady and consistent supply of large snails like a farmer who breeds snails in his/her backyard. This, therefore, creates a wide opportunity for Cameroonians to get into the business and to make easy cash.