Snail farming in Africa is one of the top interesting business opportunities on the continent.
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 hundreds of years, Africa’s appetite for snails has been served through traditional means. Snails handpicked from the bush (usually in the dead of the night) have been the only way to get snails to the market and dinner table.
However, as Africa’s population explodes and our forests continue to be sacrificed to build cities, the (bush) supply of snails cannot keep up with the soaring demand.
This has created an opportunity in the market for snail breeders and farmers who now cultivate these interesting creatures on small farms and in their backyards for impressive profits.
Snails are a great delicacy, and for good reason too…
Snails are a huge part of the diet in many parts of Africa, although they are not always affordable and available all year round. Their high protein, low fat and cholesterol content make them a nutritional favourite.
Snails contain almost all the amino acids needed by the body and most of its by-products are used for cosmetics and medicines.
As our population becomes more interested in healthier living and low-cholesterol diets, snails will become a popular alternative to to all the fatty and non-healthy meats that flood our markets nowadays. They are much cheaper than red meat with greater health benefits on top!
Snails have, for a long time, been a popular and recurring item on the menus of hotels, restaurants and bars where they often feature as boiled, fried and spiced kebabs. They are also a great addition to soups and stews which are a significant part of most African dishes.
Some things you should consider before you start a snail farm…
In terms of cost and time, snail farming is a low risk business. Unlike many other livestock businesses, snail farming requires very little startup and operating costs.
It can be run from your backyard (if you have a sizeable one) or on that piece of land wasting away in your neighbourhood or village.
Snails are friendly to the environment and their droppings are not offensive (unlike pigs and poultry) so there’s no chance an angry neighbor will come knocking.
Snails also 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. This high reproduction rate has made snails a pest in many regions of the world.
However, it’s this fast reproductive ability that makes these slow creatures a delight to an entrepreneur. Snails can give very high returns on your initial investment if you do your homework well and target niche and repeat customers.