Background of the Study
Snail meat has been consumed by humans throughout the world since prehistoric times (Cobbinah, 2001). The interest in snail farming around the world stems from snails’ high quality protein and medicinal value. For instance, protein from snail meat is said to be very rich in all essential amino acids such as lysine, leucine, argeinine and tryptophan (Emevbore and Ademosun, 1988). Snail meat has been found to be higher in protein content (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%), sodium and cholesterol level (Bayode, 2009). The bluish liquid obtained from snail has high iron content and is used for treatment of anemia, hypertension and poor sight (Emevbore and Ademosun, 1988). The formulations from this liquid can be used to treat burns, abscesses and other wounds, measles, small pox and some skin diseases (Bayode, 2009). In Ghana, the bluish liquid is believed to be good for infants’ development (Ashaye, Omele, Adetoro and Kehinde, 2001). According to Amao, Adesiyan and Salako (2007), snail meat is recommended in the past for treatment of ulcer, asthma and even at the imperial court, in Rome it was thought to contain aphrodisiac properties (arousing or increasing sexual desire) and was often served to visiting dignitaries in the late evenings. Snail meat being rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron is recommended for a hypertensive and pregnant women. It is important source of protein to human diet, additional source of income to farmers. This study will therefore serve as reference material for snail farmers and create awareness to prospective snail farmers. Over 80% of Nigerian populace are poor to whom protein products such as: Meat are a rare luxury. To avert danger of malnutrition, especially among children, the giant African land snail is a good substitute of source of protein (Bayobe, 2009). Asheye, et al (2001) reported that snail could be used to reduce of problem of malnutrition. Amao, Adesiyan and Salako (2007) reported that snail breeding can start at any time of the year.
Statement of the Problem
Many agricultural strategies have been adopted in Nigeria, yet daily per capital animal protein intake (estimated at less than 10g) remains a far cry from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recommended minimum requirement of 35g (Usman et al, 2003). In order to bridge this gap, it has been suggested that there is the need to explore other sources of animal protein in addition to the conventional sources such as ruminants and poultry (Olayide and Heady, 1982). One of the important alternative sources of animal protein which has received relatively scanty attention in Nigeria is the snail. For instance, snail breeding started as far back as the beginning of the 20th century (Ayodele and Asimalowo, 1991). The Romans raised snails on farms and fed them with special herbs to improve their tastes and increase overall snail availability. Even today, commercial snail production continues to be an important activity in several countries (Odiabo, 1997).
In Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivire, where snail meat is popular, snails are gathered from the forest during the wet season. The Ekiti State Agricultural Development Programme (ENADEP, 2009) observed that in recent years, wild snail population has declined considerably primarily because of the impact of such human activities as deforestation, pesticide use, slash and burn agriculture, spontaneous bush fires and collection of snails before they attain maturity. This necessitates encouragement of heliciculture (snail farming) as a means of conserving this important resource. More specially, Owolabi, (2006) pointed out that the existing conventional agricultural practices known today would not be able to keep pace with the expected rise in the population from 42.2 million in 1960 to 170 million in 2013 (ENADEP, 2009). The need to look for new resources therefore has never been greater than now. As was observed by Amao, Adesiyan and Salako, (2007), it is important that snail farming (heliciculture) should be encouraged, because it is only through conscious effort made by man to farm snails that conservation of these species of animals will be possible. Snail hunting is no longer sufficient source of snail (Olukayode, 2005). Baba and Adeleke (2006) noted that one of the important alternative sources of animal protein which has received relatively scanty attention in Nigeria is the snail. Snail farming should be encouraged as a new branch of sustainable animal production.
In spite of the potentials and advantages of snail farming, widespread participation in its production by farmers is yet to be achieved in Nigeria (Baba and Adeleke, 2006). Much of the snails marketed in Nigeria, and Ekiti State in particular, are collected from the wild. Few farms exist for commercial breeding and production of snails. This is probably attributed to lack of awareness of the economic potentials of this micro livestock (ENADEP 2009, Baba and Adeleke 2006). This study therefore, estimated economics of snail production Ekiti Agricultural zone of Ekiti State.