Snail farming is not yet very popular in Kenya, but it has been there in other countries for years. For instance, in the USA they started eating snails in the 1850s. Eating of snails is also popular in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, France, China, Spain among others.
Roussoss Demisse Odhiambo a 24-year-old 3rd year IT student at MKU University recently decided to venture into it. A visit to a friend in Italy last year, who at one time took him out for a meal in a restaurant where his friend ordered snails for dinner.
That was when the agritourism farming idea he had been looking for came to his mind. Back to Kenya, he researched on how and where to buy the snails. In the month of May 2019 he began his business.
At first, he decided to give it a trial and see if it would work and give him profit.
Though driven by a passion for unique farming, making profit was also key. He set up a small structure at his farm at Karen Nairobi. He then traveled to Wundanyi in Voi to find the snails and then to Kiembeni in Mombasa.
“It is easy to find the African giant land snails in the coast region since they survive well in warm areas,” Odhiamho said.
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He said. He hired people to help him gather the snails. To start with, he gathered 15 snails. He took them to his farm He fed them with vegetable. Since snails are hermaphrodites and can mate and procreate by themselves, Odhiambo’s snails started to multiply fast.
In the month of September 2019, he made his decision to go large scale. He traveled back to Voi and bought 1800 snails. The snails mature in 6 months.
Odhiamho has recently made a good profit in this business. For the giant snail, he sells between Sh1500 to Sh3000. Through social media, he is able to market his produce. Most of his customers are Nigerians Ghanaians, Italians, Chinese, and Spanish. Other customers are usually referrals by other customers which really encourages him.
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Other than being delicious, snails are also a good source of important nutrients. They are a good source of protein that has low calories and essential for building and repair of muscles, iron which is essential for building red blood cells and carrying energy around the body and lack of it can lead to extreme fatigue and anemia.
Vitamin B12 is needed in our bodies for making red blood cells, keeping the nervous system healthy and releasing energy from the food we eat and processing folic acid.
Magnesium which our bodies need to maintain normal blood pressure, strengthen bones and also keep your heartbeat regular. Selenium though not much needed keeps a healthy immune system and protects cells against damage. Omega 3 which is good for a healthy heart.
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Apart from being a delicacy snails are also used for cosmetic purposes. The mucus they produce is considered good for the skin. Odhiambo plans to get business with cosmetic companies in the near future. The shells from the snails are also profitable. They can be used as ornaments or a form of art. Odhiambo sells his shells to the curio shop owners
However, Odhiambo has faced a couple of challenges in this file farming. Some people here in Kenya find it weird and strange. So he has to explain it to them what it is all about. To get a license to start the business from the KWS is along the waiting process although it costs only Sh1500 per year.
Caption: Snails. Photo: the-star.co.ke