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MSME

How snail farming can put real money in your pocket

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Snail farming or heliculture is the act of raising snails for food and other human uses. Snails belong to the second largest group in the animal kingdom called Phylum Mollusca among other invertebrates ( animals without backbone). Snails can self-fertilize because they are hermaphrodites, this means each snail has both the male and female organs. They are also capable of reproducing rapidly; producing 300 eggs in one batch 2-3 times a year.

For many years, Africa’s appetite for snails has been served through traditional means; snails handpicked from the bush (usually in the dead of the night) have been the only way to get them to the market and dinner table. However, as Nigeria’s  population continues to explode  and our forests continue to be sacrificed to build cities, the (bush) supply of snails cannot keep up with the soaring demand. This has created an opportunity in the market for snail breeders and farmers who now cultivate these interesting creatures on small farms and in their backyards for impressive profits.

Nutritional Benefit of Snails

Snails are a huge part of the diet content in many parts of Africa, although they are not always affordable and available all year round. Their high protein, low fat and cholesterol contents make them a nutritional favourite. Snail meat contains almost all the amino acids needed by the body and most of its by-products are used for cosmetics and medicines.

As our population becomes more interested in healthier living and low-cholesterol diets, snails will become a popular alternative to all the fatty and non-healthy meats that flood our markets nowadays. Added to their greater health benefits, they are much cheaper than red meat.

Snail Market in Nigeria.

Snails are very dormant during the dry season; they become increasingly scarce during this period and the market is starved of adequate supply until the next wet season. This makes the supply of snails very seasonal in many parts of Africa where they serve as food. Snails may go on break during the dry seasons but the human appetite for its taste always remains, and continues to grow throughout the year.

Due to a steady growth in demand from customers, hotels and restaurants are always in need of snail delicacies on their menus. And given the significant upside to the profits that can be made, it makes a lot of sense to take maximum advantage of this market when the supply of snails is significantly short.

There is also growing demand in Europe for giant African snails. Apart from their great taste, many people in the West like to keep them as pets and keepsakes due to their sheer size (I was surprised too!). But never mind, you are more likely to be very busy satisfying the local demand to bother about exports.

Tips for Snail Farming Start-up.

  1. Low start-up cost: Unlike many other livestock businesses, snail farming requires very little startup and operating costs.With a small space at your backyard you can start snail rearing.
  2. Snail friendly Environment: Snails are easily dehydrated, and wind increases the rate of moisture lost in them. To prevent snails from losing water so quickly, your snaileries (the snail house) must be located in environments that are protected from wind. A low plain, downhill site surrounded with enough trees is perfect for snail farming. You may plant plantains and bananas around your snail farm to prevent the impact of wind. Their major habitat is soil which contains some of the components and chemical substances that they need to survive.

However, not all types of soil are suitable for snail rearing. The snail shell mainly consists of calcium which is derived mostly  from the soil. They also lay eggs on the soil and drink water out of the soil. Hence, the suitable soil for snail farming must contain these elements. It must be balanced- not waterlogged, not too dry, and must not be acidic. The most desirable soil for snails is sandy-loamy soil with low water holding capacity. Clayey soil and acidic soil must be avoided.

  1. Snail Food and Feeding: Snails, especially Achatina, mainly feeds on green leaves and fruits though they can utilize other types of foods. Feed your snails leaves, fruits, or even formula from the feed store. Aside from food to grow tissues, snails need calcium to grow shells.

 Leaves: Cocoyam leaves, pawpaw leaves, okra leaves, cassava leaves, eggplant                     leaves, cabbage and lettuce leaves.

 Fruits: Mango, eggplant, pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, oil palm fruits, pears, and   cucumber.

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  1. When procuring snails: it is advisable to get snails directly from the forest instead of buying from the market after they might have been exposed to sunlight and got  Dehydration stresses them out, and reduces their fertility capacity.

Intending snail farmers could pick snails from the bush with a very simple technique; clear a little portion of land during rainy season and sprinkle spicy fruits like pineapples, pawpaws, plantains, bananas, etc at about 5o’clock in the evening. On return, about 7pm or 8pm, select ones that appear suitable for rearing. Repeat the procedure until you get your required quantity.

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Another way could be to pick up snail eggs littered in the market place where it is sold and through a technique, check the fertility of the eggs, because some of them must have lost fertility due to the exposure to sunlight. The eggs are later put inside a container containing wet sand and covered with cocoyam leaves. Between 21 to 28 days, the eggs would hatch into baby snails. You start feeding them and gradually you raise a snail farm.

Once they start growing, separate the big ones from the small ones. It takes more than a year for the Achatina type (also known as the giant African snail) to grow to harvest size, Others mature in two years.

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In conclusion, snail farming is an easy, affordable alternative for the cash-strapped entrepreneur; all it needs is a little space, attention and dedication yet it yields good profits. For example, one can easily rear 100,000 snails and after a year or two, sell them at the rate of N50 each (highly reduced price) thereby earning about N5 million!

That’s cool investment.

Fikayo Owoeye writes for Nairametrics

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Nairametrics frequently publishes articles from experts such as financial analysts, economists, researchers and investors. We also feature articles from guest writers and bloggers who wish to push their views and opinions through our platform.To get your articles on Nairametrics, kindly send an email to [email protected] and we will publish it within 24 hours of approval by our editorial team.

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Columnists

How MSMEs can get easy access to finance

MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness.

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How MSMEs Can Get Easy Access to Finance

MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Nigerian economy. In 2019, they made up 90% of all registered businesses, contributed more than 50% of the country’s nominal GDP, and employ 84% of its labour force. Despite this, MSMEs were the recipients of less than 5% of all credit granted by the banking industry.

One reason for this is self-selection by MSME owners. Many MSMEs refuse to apply for loans from banks due to a fear of rejection and a belief that banks charge exorbitant fees and request hefty collateral before giving loans to MSMEs. Now more than ever, in this era of cashflow-based lending and low-interest rates, this harmful myth is costing businesses access to finance that they need to scale.

Another reason is the MSMEs’ lack of loan readiness. Unlike large companies, small business owners do not prepare themselves before applying for loans. This causes them to make many mistakes that discourage banks from lending to them due to a fear of non-repayment.

In order to overcome this hurdle and join large businesses in taking advantage of the low-interest climate, MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness:

1. Maintain financial records – Research shows that 69% of MSMEs in Nigeria do not keep detailed financial records. As a business owner, you must ensure that funds pass through your business account. Your business’s financial records as reflected in your bank statement will help your bank determine your repayment capacity. This is important, whether you want a collateral-free or collateral-based loan.

2. Use narrations for transfer into personal accounts – Again, always use your business account for business funds. However, if funds must be paid into your personal account for any reason, then ensure that those payments have a narration that reflects the purpose of the payment. For example, Two shirts purchased. This helps isolate business funds from personal when computing your turnover in order to determine your loan amount and repayment capacity.

3. Know what you want – Always know exactly how much you want and what you want it for. If your account officer asks you how much you want and you say “any amount you can give me”, they automatically assume you have no plan for the money or a plan for repayment. Before approaching your bank, determine how much you need and how much you can repay per month, using your monthly income.

4. Have a repayment plan – Always have a plan for repayment. Know how much you can afford to part with per month. Note however that your repayment plan might not align with that of the bank. Banks prefer not to take more than 33% of your monthly income in loan repayments, so your loan repayment period will probably be dependent on how much you can pay per month. Regardless, a well-thought-out repayment plan will build confidence in your repayment ability.

5. Engage your account officer– It is important to have an engagement with your account officer before applying for the loan. Instead of just writing a loan application letter to the bank and waiting for a response. Armed with your financial statement and your knowledge of how much you need and for how long, visit your account officer and have them work with you in getting your loan.


Ese Atakpu is a writer and banker.

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Commodities

AFEX raises $50 million to Finance Agri-SMEs in Nigeria

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the agric sector.

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AFEX to partner with FMDQ and Dubai Commodities Exchange, 50,000 farmers to benefit from AFEX Commodities agric funding initiative

AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX), a private commodities exchange company, has announced the first Warehouse Receipt Backed Commercial Paper in Africa. The paper has tech-enabled operations and a 24-hour fast cash turnaround for borrowers.

This was disclosed by AFEX in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the Nigerian agricultural sector with a commodity-backed instrument – for the first time.

READ: AFEX partners FMDQ, Dubai Commodities Exchange to deepen markets opportunities

Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX, stated, “The AFEX financing deal will help eradicate the high cost of procurement incurred by processors by deploying a discounted value of a warehouse receipt distributed among five leading players in the Food and Beverage, Trading Poultry and Animal Feed segments in Nigeria.

“The receiving companies are top 10 players in their respective segments. They have now been enabled access to a tool for managing price volatility, enabling up to 30% direct savings on prices.

“With our vision to reach a cumulative total of over $5 Billion in investment to the agriculture sector over the next five years, this financing deal is right on track to achieve this goal.’’

He added that as AFEX move towards building a derivatives market in Africa, “we want to be able to reduce exposure to price risk for stakeholders, by enabling them to hedge their positions and trade in commodity derivatives.”

READ: CBN to increase loans to agricultural sector to 10% of total bank credit

Why it matters

  • The warehouse receipts, which can then be transferred from commodities to a financial asset and listed under the borrower’s portfolio on the AFEX trading platform, will create a sustainable funding structure and address underfunding in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
  • With the warehouse receipt system linked to financiers, the system allows financiers value and marks the commodities’ price to market on a real-time basis.

What you should know

  • AFEX’s mission is to provide low-risk working capital facility for stakeholders in the Agro sector, in a way that is transparent and has a very high viable investment return.
  • As a licensed commodities exchange and warehouse receipt system operator, it deploys a warehouse receipt system and collateral management infrastructure to increase market confidence for both lenders and borrower.

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