10 Things you should know about Snail Farming in Ghana

One of the most profitable agricultural ventures for young farmers in Ghana is snail farming. Snail farming is a practical and viable business venture that has been tried and tested in Ghana.

For many, when considering profitable ventures to launch in Ghana, snail farming isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

In this article, we hope to explore the opportunities that can be unearthed after proper investments in snails.

The potential for snail farming in Ghana’s marketplace is massive, yet it remains vastly underrated. Snails are a significant component of the diet in many regions of Ghana, even though they are not always readily available or affordable throughout the year. If you rear snails on a commercial scale, you can expect consistent demand from hotels and fast-food establishments.

In Ghana, the prices for raw, mature snails range from GHC20 to GHC100, depending on their size. For many years, snails collected from farms or the wild were the primary source of snails in the market and on dinner tables. Presently, the demand for snails exceeds the supply, indicating that the market potential for snails is limitless. Initiating both small and large-scale snail farming ventures can effectively bridge the gap between snail demand and supply in Africa.

In fact, the Deputy Director-General for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Paul Bunso recently stated the potential of snail farming.

Choosing the Right Spiece: Achatina Achatina

Achatina achatina is a large land snail species native to West Africa and is well-suited for snail farming in Ghana. Similar to other giant land snails such as the Achatina fulicaAchatina achatinas are herbivores. Their diets consist of many plants such as nuts, flowers, fruit, stems, and leaves. Achatina achatina have also been known to eat farmers’ crops including cocoa, peanuts, bananas, and cauliflower.

It has a high growth rate, reaching marketable size within 6 to 12 months, and can attain a considerable weight. Achatina achatina is also known for its delicious taste and is highly sought after in local and international markets. 

Snail housing and enclosures

Ensuring proper housing and enclosures is essential for a successful snail farming venture. Achatina achatina, in particular, requires a roomy and secure pen that includes shaded areas to shield the snails from harsh weather conditions and potential predators. The pen should be constructed using materials such as wood or wire mesh to provide sufficient ventilation and prevent snail escapes. It is important to conduct regular inspections of the pen to detect and promptly repair any potential entry points for predators.

Soil Preparation and Substrate

Achatina achalina thrives in well-drained and fertile soil. Prepare the soil by removing stones, debris, and weeds. Loosen the soil to improve aeration and drainage. Mix organic matter such as compost or decomposed leaves into the soil to enhance fertility. The substrate in the snail pen should consist of a mixture of soil, sand, and organic material, providing a suitable medium for snail movement, egg laying, and growth.

Feeding and Nutrition

Achatina achatina is primarily herbivorous and requires a balanced diet for optimal growth. Feed them a variety of fresh, leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, papaya leaves, and cocoyam leaves. Additionally, provide calcium-rich foods like crushed eggshells, limestone, or oyster shells to support shell development. Ensure a constant supply of clean water for the snails to drink.

Moisture and Humidity

Maintaining appropriate moisture levels in the snail pen is essential for the well-being of Achatina achatina. Snails require a humid environment to prevent dehydration and promote shell development. Regularly spray the snail pen with water to maintain humidity, especially during dry seasons. Monitor moisture levels and adjust as needed to prevent excessive dampness, which can lead to fungal infections.

Pest and Disease Management

Achatina achatina can face challenges from pests and diseases. Implement preventive measures such as regular pen cleaning, debris removal, and ensuring proper sanitation to minimize the risk of diseases. Monitor for signs of pests and promptly address any infestations. If necessary, consult with agricultural experts or veterinarians to diagnose and treat any health issues that may arise.

Breeding and Reproduction

Achatina achatina is a hermaphroditic species, meaning each individual possesses both male and female reproductive organs. To encourage breeding, ensure a balanced male-to-female ratio in the enclosure. Provide isolated nesting sites by creating small, separate areas in the pen where snails can lay their eggs. Monitor the eggs closely and transfer them to a separate container with stable conditions for hatching. Maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity levels for successful incubation.

Snail Care and Growth

Monitor the snails’ growth and health regularly. Keep their environment clean, removing any waste or uneaten food. Maintain a stable environment with the right temperature and humidity to support their growth. As the snails grow, ensure they have enough space to move comfortably.

Harvesting and Marketing

Snails are ready for harvest when they have reached the desired size and weight. Achatina achatina can become marketable within 6 to 12 months, depending on environmental conditions and feed quality. Harvest the snails by gently picking them up, avoiding any damage to their shells. Sort them based on their size and weight.

When it comes to marketing your snails, explore various channels to reach potential buyers. Local markets, restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores are good places to start. Develop partnerships with distributors or wholesalers who can help connect you with larger markets. Utilize online platforms and social media to promote your farm and reach a wider audience.

Key Guidelines for Thriving Snail Farming in Ghana [Bonus]
  1. In-Depth Research: Before launching your snail farming venture, invest time in comprehensive research. Study snail farming techniques and assess market demand to ensure a strong foundation for your business.
  2. Start Small and Scale Gradually: Begin with a manageable number of snails and expand your operation gradually as you accumulate experience and knowledge. This approach allows you to learn and adapt effectively.
  3. Detailed Record-Keeping: Maintain meticulous records of your expenses, sales, and breeding cycles. This systematic documentation aids in efficient farm management and informed decision-making.
  4. Hygiene and Sanitation: Implement stringent hygiene practices and regular sanitation routines to minimize the risk of pests and diseases. A clean environment is essential for healthy snails and successful farming.
  5. Stay Compliant: Stay informed about the specific regulations and permits required for snail farming in your region. Complying with local guidelines is vital to prevent potential setbacks.
  6. Network and Learn: Join snail farming associations or networks to connect with experienced farmers. This allows you to learn from their insights, share experiences, and stay updated on emerging industry trends.
Challenges in Snail Farming
  1. Predators: Snails are vulnerable to predators, including snakes, ants, rats, insects, and birds.
  2. Soil Type: The type of soil on the farm significantly impacts snail health and reproduction. Soil contamination can lead to high mortality rates.
  3. Snail Feed: Providing the right feed is crucial for snail growth, and incorrect feeding can hinder their development.
  4. Light Intensity: Snails prefer low light intensity, so maintaining a dim environment is essential for their growth and breeding.
  5. Human Activities: Activities like bush burning and deforestation can disrupt the snails’ natural habitat and impact their productivity.
  6. Diseases and Parasites: Snail farming is susceptible to diseases and parasites, leading to issues like fragile shells, inactivity, and reduced reproduction.
  7. Climatic Factors: Snails require a high humidity environment and specific temperature ranges for survival and reproduction.
Solutions
  1. Predator Control: Protect snails from predators by eliminating them when spotted and keeping other animals like birds and cows separate from snail farms. Elevate snail houses, dig trenches with oil to deter ants, and use predator control structures.
  2. Soil Management: Ensure the soil is finely grounded, non-acidic, and rich in calcium. Conduct pH tests, sterilize soil, and change it regularly.
  3. Feeding: Provide the right feed in the correct proportions and prepare it ahead of stocking. High-quality food positively influences snail growth.
  4. Light Control: Keep the snail pen dimly lit, as snails are more active at night. Provide a cool, low-light environment.
  5. Protect from Human Activities: Maintain a tropical and natural ecosystem around the farm, and ensure the pen is secure and comfortable for snails.
  6. Disease Management: Feed snails the right diet, maintain hygiene, separate diseased snails, and practice good farm hygiene.
  7. Climate Control: Maintain a temperature between 23-28°C and humidity levels between 70-90%. Use sprinklers during the dry season to prevent snail mortality.

 

 

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