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Starting Your Snail Farm In Ghana

Starting Your Snail Farm In Ghana. Snail farming in Ghana has become a lucrative business so agricultural experts are offering professional advice to prospective farmers to enable them to harvest more yield for the local and international market.

West Africa is home to the largest species of land snail in the world. The Giant African land snail (Achatina species) is known to grow up to 30cm in length and can be found in the dense tropical rain forests across the region from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Ghana to Nigeria.

Snails are a huge part of the diet in many parts of Africa, although they are not always affordable and available all year round. Their high protein, low fat and cholesterol content make them a nutritional favourite.

Snails contain almost all the amino acids needed by the body and most of its by-products are used for cosmetics and medicines.


  • Giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica) : The Giant African Snail is a 20 cm long snail native to Africa, and it is one of the largest snail species. In some places, it is considered an invasive animal because of its high reproduction rate and the voracious appetite for crops and vegetation. This is the one normally bred in Ghana.
  •  Garden Snail (Helix aspersa): The garden snail is a small species with a height up to 1.3 inches and a particular shell design that distinguishes it from other species. They are native to the Mediterranean region, Western Europe, part of Asia and northern Egypt.
  •  Roman Snail (Helix pomatia): The Roman snail has a beautiful shell that it is almost a third of its total weight. Originally native to Europe, it is found in most of the world now. It inhabits in temperate forests with humid temperatures but scanty rainfall.

Some Things To Consider

  1. In terms of cost and time, snail farming is a low risk business. Unlike many other livestock businesses, snail farming requires very little startup and operating costs.
  2. It can be run from your backyard (if you have a sizeable one) or on that piece of land wasting away in your neighbourhood or village.
  3. Snails are friendly to the environment and their droppings are not offensive (unlike pigs and poultry) so there’s no chance an angry neighbor will come knocking.
  4. Snails also multiply really fast laying up to 100 eggs in one go. Because snails are hermaphrodites (have both male and female sexual organs), they get to mate easily throughout the year. This high reproduction rate has made snails a pest in many regions of the world.
  5.  Snails can give very high returns on your initial investment if you do your homework well and target niche and repeat customers.

Land site and Snailery

The shell of a snail is made up mainly of calcium derived from the soil and from feed. They also derive most of their water requirements from the soil. They dig in the soil to lay their eggs and to rest during the dry season, it is very essential to consider the type of soil to use when it comes to snail farming.

In general, if a soil supports good growth of cocoyam, tomatoes and leafy vegetables, it is suitable for snail farming. This type of soil is not water logged or acidic.


This is the place where the snails are kept. In simple terms, it is the ‘house’ for the snails.

You can use some cheap stuffs such as car tyres and oil drums to construct the snailery. Three or four tyres are placed on top of each other, with chicken wire and mosquito mesh between the topmost tyre and the second one from the top.

Oil drums should have some holes in the bottom for drainage, be filled with good soil to a depth of 7-10 cm, and be fitted with wire plus mosquito mesh on top. Such pens are suitable for keeping a few snails (up to about four mature snails in each container) close to the house, for private use.

The hutch box can also be used. Hutch boxes are square or rectangular, single or multi-chamber wooden boxes with lids, placed on wooden stilts above the ground at a suitable height for easy handling.

The stilts should be fitted with plastic or metal conical protectors or aprons, to prevent vermin from crawling or climbing up the stilts to attack the snails in the boxes. The protectors could be made from old tins or plastic bottles. In the middle of the lid is an opening covered with wire netting and nylon mesh.

The lid should be fitted with a padlock to discourage pilfering. In the floor of the box are a few holes through which excess water can drain out.
The boxes are filled with sieved black soil to a depth of 18-25 cm. The box(es) should obviously be well protected from scorching sun or torrential rain.


Snails are vegetarian and will accept many types of food. Snails avoid plants that have hairy leaves or produce toxic chemicals, like physic nut (Jathropa curcas). Young snails prefer tender leaves and shoots; they consume about twice as much feed as mature snails.


As they get older, mature snails increasingly feed on detritus: fallen leaves, rotten fruit and humus. Older snails should be fed the same items as immature snails. If a change in the diet has to be made, the new food items should be introduced gradually.

Some recommended food items

Leaves: cocoyam, kola, pawpaw, cassava, okra, eggplant, loofa, centrosema, cabbage and lettuce. Pawpaw leaves (as well as its fruit and fruit peels) stand out in many trials as a good snail food.

Fruits: pawpaw, mango, banana, eggplant, pear, oil palm, fig, tomato and cucumber. Fruits are usually rich in minerals and vitamins but low in protein.

Tubers: cocoyam, cassava, yam, sweet potato and plantain. Tubers are a good source of carbohydrates, though low in protein. (Cassava should be the low-cyanide type).

Flowers: oprono (Mansonia altissima), odwuma (Musanga cecropoides) and pawpaw.

Household waste: peels of fruit and tuber, like banana, plantain, pineapple and yam.


Farming should preferably start at the onset of the wet season, because that is the time snails normally start to breed.

A breeding snail may lay one to three egg masses (clutches) per season.

In west African snails, large differences have been observed in egg production within and between populations. The average size of egg mass produced by the various ecotypes studied in Ghana, for example, ranged from 38 to 563 eggs.

Generally, snails lay between 100 and 400 eggs. The eggs are broadly oval and measure about 5 mm long. They are
usually laid in round-shaped holes dug 2-5 cm deep in the soil.

They usually hatch 12-20 days after laying. The incubation period is around 4 weeks. Hatchlings remain underground for 2-5 days after hatching.


Little is known of the diseases which attack Snails in West Africa. As snail farming increases in popularity, more research will probably focus on this area.

The main disease that has been reported to date is a fungal disease, spread through physical contact by the snails licking slime from each other’s bodies.

The two major diseases affecting European species may also affect African species, because the organisms that cause these diseases do occur in the natural range of Snails.

The first is a bacterial disease, caused by Pseudomonas; it leads to intestinal infections that may spread rapidly amongst dense snail populations.

The second disease is caused by the fungus Fusarium, which parasitises the eggs of Helix aspersa. The affected eggs turn reddish-brown and development stops. This disease is commonly referred to as ‘rosy eggs disease’.

Basic hygiene prevents the spread of diseases. Pens should be cleaned out regularly to remove excreta and uneaten food, as well as any other decaying matter that may serve as substrate for pathogenic organisms.

It is also advisable to sterilise the soil in hutch boxes by steaming or heating every time they are being prepared for a new batch of egg clutches (i.e. when the breeders are transferred to the boxes for egg laying).

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