Dr Yemi Popoola, a livestock specialist with Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&. T), Ibadan, has advised snail farmers to always consider the market profits and environment before locating snail farms.
Popoola gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Thursday.
He said if the goal of the farmer was to make profit, the farm should be located where there was ready-made market, adding that establishing snail farms where people did not consume snails was not advisable.
Popoola remarked that the productivity of snails depended largely on the prevailing environmental condition.
He emphasised that it was better to rear snails in the rain forest belt where the relative humidity was high and temperature moderate for ease of management and better productivity.
“The site should not be sloppy but flat for ease of construction; it should not be located in a swampy place or waterlogged area.
“Farmers should always check the housing units and remove any dead snail, they should remove the leftover feeds everyday; clean the pens and the surroundings.
“They should make sure that the soil is well covered with dry leaves (mulching); in the dry season, they should wet the soil adequately, check whether the wire netting or mosquito netting is intact.
“They should feed the snails after sunset (5p.m. -6p.m.) to preserve the freshness of the feed, they should not use chemicals or agro-chemicals, that is insecticides or herbicides in the snailery, adequate shade must be provided,” he said.
Popoola pointed out that more than 80 per cent of the snails supplied to local markets were picked from the forests which was the traditional supply source, but pointed out that the growing population and urbanisation had made the source unsustainable.
He added that domestication of snail was the only way out to satisfy the growing demand.
“Potential investors or farmers should consider snail business because during the dry season, snail becomes increasingly scarce and the market is starved of constant supply until the next wet season, this makes the supply of snails very seasonal in many parts of world where they serve as food.
“As a result, snails can fetch much higher prices during the dry season (December to March) when supply often does not keep up with demand.
“This is why you need to cultivate snail at your backyard or compound for profit making,” he said.
By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko