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Rising Number Of Snail Eating Kenyans Creates Market For Farmers

Nakuru farmer says while many Kenyans frown at snails, they are a healthy source of meat with high protein nutrients and very low cholesterol.

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Snail Farming: Demand for snails as a delicacy is growing Kenya, following the growth in the number of immigrants. Snail rearing is becoming a big business with the country’s humid climatic condition providing a conducive environment for the slugs to thrive.

According to a recent report from United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Kenya has been named among the countries with the largest number of immigrants, where the influx of West Africans and Asian nationals has led to the rise in snail delicacy demand.

In Nakuru County, snail rearing is increasingly becoming an economic activity with a number of farmers taking up the business with the help of Kenya Wildlife Service.

One such farmer is Wangui Waweru who rears her snails in a 10m by 10m greenhouse in her compound in Lanet area. She has partitioned the snail house into four rooms with each containing several plastic basins covered with fine wire mesh to keep predators at bay.

Ms Waweru exhibited her produce on the World Tourism Day in Nakuru City. She says she discovered snail rearing as a farming business after a visit to Kisumu to sell farm produce eight years ago.

She, however, noted that marketing the produce has been a challenge as most farmers harvest at the same time, flooding the market.

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Ms Waweru said her biggest market are expatriates who visit the country from Europe, Asia and West Africa. She says Kenyans frown at snails yet they are a healthy meat source with high protein nutrients and very low cholesterol.

The farmer explained that snails are a common delicacy among communities in West Africa and she has established a niche market among Ghanaians, Cameroonians, Nigerians, Senegalese, Sierra Leones and Togolese, South Americans and Asians living in Kenya.

With much experience, Ms Waweru says Africa is home to the largest species of snails in the world: the Giant African land snail. Compared to other livestock, she says, snails are easy to rear and easy to maintain.

The farmer, who keeps 4,500 snails of the Giant African land variety (Achatinide fulica),  sells them at between Ksh2,000 and Ksh3,000 per kilo.  She said the Giant African snails thrive in hot and humid environment and could live to an average lifespan of 5-7 years or even 10 years with good management.

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Giant African land snails are hermaphrodite, which means that they have both male and female reproductive organs. A snail produces 300 to 500 eggs in three months, which hatch after 11 to 15 days.

Kenya Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 allows communities to farm animals such as snails, ostriches, snakes and crocodiles. After issuing a permit, KWS sends a research team to assess the facility in addition to conducting periodical monitoring of the snail farm.

Before selling snails for consumption in hotels or for the export market, one has to be certified. In addition, farmers have to make quarterly reports to KWS.

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BT Correspondent
BT Correspondenthttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
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