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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Giant-snail farming: the next big thing?

The harvesting of snails as a delicacy has traditionally been synonymous with countries such as France and Italy.

But for one savvy entrepreneur in Nigeria, a giant version of the meaty mollusc is helping him tap into a market he says can generate high profits with little initial outlay.

Snail farming is often done small-scale at the back of homes and office compounds in the Nigerian city of Lagos. That's where businessman Ismail AbdulAzeez is rearing giant African snails, which can grow up to 20 cm (7.9 inches) in length.

"To get something like this," says AbdulAzeez holding up a snail shell the size of his palm, "you'll (initially) spend about 25 Naira (16 cents), assuming you're working with about 10,000 snails at a time."

But once fully grown, the snails can sell for 250 Naira ($1.64), depending on the season, he says.

AbdulAzeez has just sold his latest harvest to a number of luxury hotels and high-class restaurants in Lagos.

But he says the snails he grows are also receiving the attention of foreign buyers in Europe and beyond -- attracted by the size of the snails and their relatively low price. (more)