Snail farming is a lucrative agribusiness but it is not without challenges. These challenges in snail farming if not properly taken care of, can lead to loss of varying amounts and probably total loss of investment.
Snails are small, slow paced creatures with no big body structure to fight off predators like other animals such as bears and this make them vulnerable to predators such as ants, termites, millipede, rats etc all feast on the snail.
Snails are delicate even though they have strong shells; they can be easily crushed, burnt and even eaten up by other animals.
Snails are intricate animals needing adequate care, proper hygiene and a well ventilated and cool environment for them to thrive.
Challenges being faced by snail farmers in snail farming include unfavourable snail houses, unpredictable weather conditions and many more.
Other activities of man such as infrastructural development, industrial activities all pose a threat to snail farming business thriving and standing the test of time.
Snail Farming In Nigeria
Snail farming is the branch of agriculture called heliculture. Snail farming is simply put, the cultivation and rearing of snails for domestic and commercial purposes with a high yield guaranteed.
This high yield however becomes threatened if some things are not put into consideration.
Snail farming is a low cost farming operation with little demand for human attention.
Snails can be reared from the backyard of your yard as a farm to table activity and they can also be reared in commercial quantity such as free ranged snail houses.
Snails are a source of protein, healthy, tasty and highly nutritious with all 9 essential amino acids needed by the human body available in the right amount making it a better alternative to red meats. This makes the snail market a busy one due to high demand.
Challenges In Snail Farming
Snail farmers are faced with various challenges whether minute or serious depending on the size of farm, type of housing and the location. These challenges include the following;
Weather And Climate Conditions
Weather conditions such as temperature, humidity play important roles in the survival of snails and a snail farming business.
Snail regardless of the species, enjoy and are found in moist, cool and wet habitats. This makes them a seasonal animal as they are abundant in the rainy season; the season that favours them most.
They are more active and healthy during this season as there is no dry air that can lead to mortality.
Snail farmers are therefore posed with the challenge of making the snails habitat the same all through the year meaning they need a steady supply of water.
For farmers with a low or short water supply, this is a great challenge and especially if the environment is naturally hot such as the Northern part of Nigeria.
This challenge can be overcome by regular sprinkling of water on the snails and keeping the soil moist enough during the hot season.
Pesticides, Fertilizers And other Agrochemicals
The use of fertilizers to boost crop production, pesticides for pest control and chemicals for weed control results in a change; drastic or subtle in the soil pH thereby making them unsuitable for the snails survival.
Due to an increase in the world’s population, there is an increase in rural to Urban migration. Activities such as deforestation which is the cutting down of trees for development, road construction etc poses threats to the snails and in turn the farmers.
Urbanization is one of the serious challenges of snail farming and should be looked into.
For snail farmers that have their snail houses close to farmland or vegetations, it is important to note that burning of bushes exposes the snails to heat and this can kill the snails or they find alternative habitats.
It is true that low capital is not one of the challenges in snail farming yet, it doesn’t mean all snail farmers can cope with the cost of adequate caring in terms of feeding etc.
Some snail farmers feed the snails just about anything due to the fact that snails eat plants, fruits and vegetables.
This would eventually alter the profit and it is at the snail farmers detriment. Snail feed must be healthy for a great output. Snail farm size not withstanding, do not overfeed the snails.
Defective Snail Pen
Snail pen should be constructed to specification regardless of the size of the snail farm. Snail houses such as cage should be done in such a way that it would not be prone to predators attacks and even theft or invading.
The snail pen whether constructed by the snail farmer or is a free range should be such that will be suitable to house the snails without jeopardizing other things. The soils in the snail pen should be treated properly to ward off parasites.
Snail pens should also be cleaned regularly, unhealthy feeds removed and the snails checked. Empty shells should be removed and the sizes of snails in a pen should be the same to avoid cannibalism.
Infections, Diseases and Parasites
Snails also fall sick due to several reasons ranging from heat stress to lack of proper hygiene. Snail parasites such as schistosomiasis pose a great threat to the snail farming.
These parasites can not be seen with the naked eyes and can only be observed when the snails are not feeding well or reduced weight. Other scientific tools can also be used to detect presence of these parasites but the question is; how many snail farmers can afford them?.
Intestine dysfunctions, weight loss, are results of these infections. Symptoms of unhealthy and infected snails include loss of the natural colours of the snails, inactiveness, thinning shells, loss of tentacles.
Snails are small creatures though intelligent yet they are defenceless against predators such as rats, lizards etc. These predators are a serious threat to snails, snail farming business in general.
Snails are slow paced and fragile making them an easy prey for the predators. Man is also a predator of snails especially in the wild and as snails can escape from a snail farm, it becomes free for all including snakes and ants.
All these challenges in snail farming can be over comed with proper planning and adequate care for the snails, the snail farm and the snail farmer.
Snail Farming is truly less capital intensive and everyone can start a snail farm. It is important to have a knowledge of the potential challenges of snail farming.
The benefits of snail farming is more than the challenges of snail farming to be encountered therefore, the sector is still a viable business.