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Varsity helping farmers unlock snail farming’s untapped potential 

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By George Munene

Given it offers lucrative returns with little start-up capital, snail farming is slowly gaining hold among Kenyan farmers spearheaded by researchers at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

“Snails are an emergent agribusinesses opportunity given that its meat is a healthier and nutritious food choice, while its byproducts can be refined for use in the cosmetic industry. Within and outside the country, there has been an increased demand for snails; we have markets in Dubai and Italy, locally, there is a demand for snail byproducts within the beauty space.” explains “Dr. Paul Kinoti a lecturer at the Department of Horticulture and Food Security at JKUAT.

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At a fee, JKUAT experts guide farmers on how they can rear snails as an income-generating venture. Through a three-day hands-on crash course, farmers gain knowledge on snail farming. They also get their initial breeding stock from the institution which they can multiply.

JKUAT also has a buy-back program for slime—one of the byproducts of snails—with its farmers. This is processed into products like cream and soaps. Slime can also be refined and used in the making of fertilisers and animal feed.

Snail keeping can be done as an agribusiness or as a healthy food option and nutritional supplement for families.

Like most low to medium-income countries, Kenya is undergoing an epidemiological shift from infectious to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) being the leading cause of hospitalisation. In 2013 NCDs contributed to 50 per cent of inpatient admissions and 40 per cent of hospital deaths. An unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use are the leading causes of NCDs.

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Snail meat contains negligible fat traces. The meat’s lack of cholesterol means it’s useful in managing lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular complications.

Snails are also a rich source of amino acids—it’s concentration is higher than in chicken or fish. It is further rich in omega 3, which is key in brain development. It is high in selenium which is important in building human disease resistance reserves.  

JKUAT: 0709715815 /[email protected]

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