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Snails are derived from the wild life bank and are used as food, feed or source of revenue in given parts of the world. Usually unknown to animal production specialists trained in industrialized countries and often officially ignored also by the livestock services of their home areas, even though their meat often considered bush meat or game meat, may be appreciated and command a higher price than the more conventional animals.
The two main areas of snail consumption in the World are Western Africa and Western Europe.
Snails are invertebrates with soft bodies that are covered with hard Carcareous shells. Snails belong to the phylum of animals known as mollusca. Some other members of the mollusc are slugs, mussels and oysters. Many species of edible land snails are recognized but the popular species of economic interest is the West Africa giant snails. archachatina marginata and achatina achatina.
Snail meat is high in protein (37-51%) compared to that of guinea pig (20.3%), Poultry (18.3%), Fish (18%), Cattle (17.5%), Sheep (16.4%) and Swine (14.5%). Iron content (45-59mg/kg), low in fat (0.05-0.08%) and contains almost all the amino acids needed for human nutrition. In addition to the nutritional value of snail meat, recent studies indicated that the glandular substances from edible snails cause agglutination of certain bacteria, which could be of value against a variety of ailments including whooping cough. In folk medicine, the bluish liquid obtained when the meat has been removed from the shell is believed to be good for infant's development. It is believed in some quarters that snail meat contains pharmacological properties of value in counteracting high blood pressure.
At the imperial Court in Rome, snail meat was thought to contain aphrodisiac properties and was often served to visiting dignitaries in the late evening. The high Iron content of snail meat is considered important in the treatment of anaemia and in the past the meat was recommended as a means of combating ulcers and asthma.
There is a flourishing international trade of snails in Europe and North America. In France the annual requirement is about 5 million kg, over 60% of which is imported. The estimated annual consumption in Italy is 306 million snails. In West Africa, snail meat has traditionally been a major ingredient in the diet of people living in the high forest belt. In the Cote d'Ivoire, for example, an estimated 7.9 million kg is eaten annually. In Nigeria, although the consumption figures are not available, it is clear that demand outstrips supply.
In spite of the considerable external and local demand, commercial snail farms such as those in Europe, South-East Asia and the Americas do not exist in West Africa. In Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire where snail meat is particularly popular, snails are gathered from the forest. In recent years however, wild snail population have declined considerably, primarily because of the impact of such human activities as:
From the above observation, it is therefore important that snail farming (heliculture) should be encouraged, because it is only through conscious efforts made by man to farm snails would conservation of these species of animals be made possible. More especially, Norton, recently pointed out that the existing conventional Agricultural practices known today would not be able to keep pace with the expected 30% rise in the world population increase from 7.03 billion in 2010 to 9.14 billion in 2030. The need to look for new resources therefore has never been greater than now.
To this end, an exciting new branch of animal production captioned "Mini-livestock" production has been created and is being propagated by Bureau for Exchange and Distribution of Information on Mini-livestock (B.E.D.I.M.) under the auspices of the European and FAO. They are to introduce Mini-livestock production as a new branch of sustainable animal production into the Universities, Colleges of Agriculture and allied Institutions and their ultimate application in farms.
Snail Farming and management, a resourceful e-book contains everything you need to know about running a profitable Snail farm. Tips and experiences garnered over the years are shared with you in this book.
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