In West Africa, snail meat, popularly called ‘Congo meat’ in Nigeria is a major ingredient in the diet of people living in the high forest belt. Snail meat contains all the amino acids needed for human nutrition hence highly recommended by nutritionists. It is preferable for the elderly and people living with chronic diseases that require modified diets.
Consumers and sellers of this delicacy will soon have a big reason to smile as Ekiti State Government last week, commissioned Nigeria’s largest snail farm and the second-largest in Africa. This is following the state government’s policy to promote private investments in the state. The multi-billion naira project is located in Egbeja Snail Village, Okemesi Ekiti.
The venture is a private initiative of Farmkonnect Agribusiness Nigeria Limited. The 7000-Square meters modern farm size grants the potential of producing at least 2.6 million kg (2,600 metric tons) of snails per annum. An investment of N5.2 billion was committed to the project with the capacity to employ over 2,000 skilled and unskilled labor.
Azeez Oluwole Saheed, founder of Farmkonnect revealed that the decision to establish the snail farm in Okemesi Ekiti was due to the state’s friendly investment environment. He added that the ease of doing business policy of the Kayode Fayemi administration influenced his decision.
Snail’s high level of protein at 37-51% surpasses that of poultry (8.3%), fish (18%), cattle (17.5%), and sheep (6.4%). There has been a rise in the demand for snail meat both in the local and international markets. The global snail market in 2016 stood at 43k tones which equated approximately $154m in terms of wholesale prices. The global snail market is gradually rising.
Besides the production of snail meat, slime extracted from the snails would also be exported. This is said to be in high demand in the pharmaceutical and skin and hair care industries.
European countries have remained the largest consumers of snail hence an opportunity for exports in the country. Snail is a widely traded commodity. From 2007 – 2016, the share of export in total global output was at about 80%.
Prince Adewole Adeyanju, CEO of Wolegate Global Resources Ltd had disclosed that the Federal Government stands the chance of making millions of foreign exchange as revenue if it explores the opportunity available from massive snail farming and exporting.
As consumer awareness increases, a larger population has become more interested in healthier living and low-cholesterol diets. Snail Farm will become a popular alternative to all the fatty and non-healthy meats rampant in the market. Added to their greater health benefits, they are much cheaper than red meat.
Snail is not only known for its nutritional benefit. Its medicinal value fights against ailments such as whooping cough, high blood pressure, ulcer, and asthma. Crushed snail may also be used in chicken feed to improve the quality of acidic soil in fish pond hence every part of the snail comes with profit.
Nigerian snail farmers on December 12, 2020, revealed that the industry has the potential to generate high profit if given proper attention by the government. The value chain holds so many opportunities yet to be explored in the country.
Snail farming has the advantage of high adaptability and survival rate coupled with their abundance in Nigeria. The giant African land snail is about the largest known land snail. Mature adult snails can weigh an average of 180-300g.
Despite the opportunities in the venture, very few individuals are making a fortune from snail farming. The sector has been overlooked as popular agricultural produce such as rice, tomato, and other well-known cash crops have been the major concentration of the government. However, the few who have invested in snail farming are making a huge profit. As the nation hopes to attain food sufficiency, there has to be a balanced investment in farm produce that has nutritional value.
With the government’s interest and investment in the agricultural sector to boost revenue for the country, snail farming can be a profitable consideration. It is lucrative and sustainable as a business venture.
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Agriculture is multifaceted. The country is endowed with an abundance of resources that could yield profit and help recover the sector. As the year commences, and several policies are being established, there is a need to look into some of the areas that have been neglected and overlooked. Snail farming is one of such. Ekiti government has recognized the huge profit that can be made out of this area of agriculture. It is time for the nation to diversify its agricultural produce.
– Peace Omenka