In a product development set to further expand the growing market for Kenyan farmed snails, researchers at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) have developed skincare products from snails’ slimy mucin secretion.
Dr. Paul Kinoti, who is leading the project through the university’s horticulture department, said snails are known to produce a secretion known as mucin or slime which can be used in making cosmetics.
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“Though the cost of producing the skin care products is capital-intensive, the production of snail mucin skincare is currently under way and will hit the market any time once we get a nod from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs),” he said.
The machine used for extracting the slime has been imported from the west at a cost of $5m (Sh500 million) making the process capital intensive, but the researchers believe the work could open the way to a new subsector.
Currently, Kenyan snail farmers are producing African Giant Snails, which do not produce much mucin, meaning JKUAT is importing the snail mucin. But there is a species of snail known as Helis Aspasia (brown snail) which produces a lot of slime, at about 10ml per snail, and the product development could make it a viable farming option in Kenya.
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Until then, the university is importing the slime from the west at about 40 euros or Sh4,600 per litre of slime.
According to Ivy Rosio, a student JKUAT who is part of the snail research team at JKUAT, snails can be used to make a wide range of products including liquid soaps, face creams, fertilisers and organic feeds.
The snail shells can also be used to make ornaments or to trap heavy metals in water treatment.
“They are ground and fed to chicken and fish because of their high calcium content. They are also used in making organic fertilisers, where they are ground and fortified into compost. It works well with all crops due to its high content of nutrients,” she said.
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She says the slime can then be used to make face creams that help in curbing acnes and dark spots and have anti-aging properties. The quoted price for the face creams is Sh1,000 for a 200ml bottle, while 150 ml of liquid soap retails at Sh250.
Dr. Paul Kinoti can be reached on 0721167244