THE PLACE OF SNAIL FARMING IN THE AGRICULTURAL, INDUSTRIAL, PHARMACEUTICAL AND ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION IN NIGERIA

THE PLACE OF SNAIL FARMING IN THE AGRICULTURAL, INDUSTRIAL, PHARMACEUTICAL AND ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION IN NIGERIA

 BY

 

  

PROFESSOR BASSEY IGRI OKON FNIAS, KSM

DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF CALABAR

CALABAR, NIGERIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEING KEYNOTE ADDRESS PRESENTED AT THE 4TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE/WORKSHOP OF RESEARCH NETWORK ON GIANT AFRICAN LAND SNAILS (NetGALS), MONDAY, 1ST JUNE, 2015, AT NNAMDI AZIKIWE UNIVERSITY, AWKA

Protocol

  • The Vice Chancellor,

Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka

  • The Dean, Faculty of Agriculture,

Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka

  • The President,

Network on Giant African Land Snails (NetGALS)

  • The Chairman,

Local Organizing Committee (LOC)

  • Invited Guests,
  • All other Protocols duly observed,
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am highly honoured to be part of the 4th International Conference/Workshop on Giant African Land Snails (GALS) with the Theme: The place of Snail Farming in the Agricultural, Industrial, Pharmaceutical and Economic Transformation in Nigeria. I am equally humbled and very grateful to the organizers for finding me fit to deliver the Key note address as unqualified as I am.

In the beginning, Agriculture was the main stay of Nigeria’s Economy. It was revenue from Agriculture that was deployed to develop the crude oil sector and today Agriculture is playing second fiddle to oil and contributing only about 40% of Nigeria’s GDP and employing about 70% of the workforce (Asuquo, 2012).

Recent events in the Global oil industry and their drastic effect on Nigeria’s economy have driven home the fact that we have to diversify and of course take Agriculture more seriously than we are now doing.

Farm animals constitute a major component of the Agricultural Economy and despite over 60 years of Nigeria’s existence as a Nation we are yet to meet the minimum per capita Animal protein requirement. This simply means that we are unable to produce enough animal products (meat, fish, eggs, milk, hide and skin to mention but a few) to meet the demand by Nigerians for their wellbeing.

A number of factors are responsible for this short fall and they include but not limited to Improper Implementation of Government policies, Lack of easily accessible funds, Poor Infrastructures, Poor foundation Stocks, and high cost of Animal feeds. All the above mentioned factors including others not mentioned here led to the search for alternative sources of Animal Protein of which the Snail is one.

“Snail farming is the newest bride of Animal Agriculture”. It is a viable and profitable venture yet to be fully explored in Nigeria. The demand for snail meat is higher than its supply and as such the market potential for snail meat is almost inexhaustible, locally and internationally.

I therefore consider this conference/workshop timely and appropriate because virtually every part of the snail is very useful. There is virtually no aspect of our economy that would not be positively affected by snail production. It is therefore a welcomed development that Snail farming is gaining grounds in most of the rural areas in West Africa and becoming more popular among dwellers in the Southern and Coastal areas of Nigeria. Akinusi (2002), Okon and Ibom (2012) all opined that interest in snail farming was aroused among Nigerians after the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) raised alarm on the animal protein deficiency status of Nigerians.

Following the increasing interest in Snail Production in recent years, “the Snail has become the emerging domestic micro-livestock of importance in Nigeria”. Some of the more known species in Nigeria include Archachatina maginata, Archachatina degneri, Achatina achatina, Achatina fulica, Thapsia species and Limicolaria species. Of these snail breeds (Plates 1 – 6) Archachatina maginata, Archachatina degneri, Achatina achatina, Achatina fulica, Thapsia species are regarded as Giant African Land Snails (GALS), while Limicolaria species are referred to as garden snails.

 

                     

Plate 1: A. marginata                                                         Plate 2:  A. degneri

It is the most popular breed of

GALS reared and kept in Nigeria.

 

 

                 

Plate 3: Achatina achatina                                            Plate 4: A. fulica

It is the largest gastropod among                                   It is indigenous. It is the GALS recorded in the smallest gastropod among the                                                        Guiness Book of records.                                                              Genus Achatina.

 

                                                   

Plate 5: Thapsia species                                                       Plate 6: Limicolaria species

 

Over the years, strategies have been put in place by different Governments in Nigeria to enhance the contribution of the Agricultural Sub-Sector to the overall National Economy to ensure food sufficiency and food security. They include: the Commodity Boards (1947-1986), Agricultural Research Institutes (1964 to date), National Accelerated Food Programme (NAFPP) (1970s), Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) (1975 to date), Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) (1976 to 1979), River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAS) (1977 to date), various Presidential Initiatives (1999 to 2007) and currently vision 20:20:20 and the 7-point Agenda.

Despite all these Programmes, Agricultural Production has remained low, resulting in high cost of food, low protein, hunger and disease. Budgetary provisions for agriculture in successive budgets have been consistently lower than the United Nation and African Union recommended levels. Livestock farming  has even fared worse than Crop agriculture.

Table I shows the 2008 population of different types of livestock and fish, together with 2011 targets set under the 7-point Agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

 

Table I: 2008 LIVESTOCK AND FISH POPULATION AND 2011 TARGETS                         (MILLIONS)

Species 2008 Population 2011 Target
Poultry 166 24.9
Goat 52.4 67.6
Sheep 33 42.9
Cattle 16 20
Pig 6.64 8.25
Fish 0.635 1.5

Source: FMA and WR (2008)

It is quite clear from the table above that neither the population of snails is known nor is Snail farming given the priority place among Livestock species in Nigeria (Okon, 2013). Despite the large numbers of the different species of livestock, the average per capita animal protein intake in Nigeria is low, about 10g per day as against the FAO/WHO recommendation of 35g per day. Thus, Nigeria remains among the least consumers of animal protein, even in Africa. The average animal protein intake per capita per day in Africa, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and North America is 11, 33, 39 and 66g respectively.

The reasons advanced for this deficiency are partly that the growth rate of human population is not matched by growth in livestock population (Asuquo, 2012) and in part to the economic down-turn in Nigeria which has made the conventional and regular sources of animal protein like beef, pork, goat meat, mutton, milk, fish, poultry meat and egg an exclusive reserve of the rich (Hodasi, 1983). According to Ebenebe (2000), there is need to look inward and integrate into our farming system some non-conventional meat sources to complement the conventional animals as sources of animal protein. That way the much needed improvement in animal protein consumption level in Nigeria might be achieved. The challenge therefore falls on the micro-livestock sub-sector to fill in the gap in Nigeria’s Animal protein intake (Nodu and Adesope, 2002).

Let’s pause here and consider in detail the place of Snail farming in the Agricultural, Industrial, Pharmaceutical and Economic transformation in Nigeria.

 

Agricultural transformation

The goal of the Agricultural transformation programme includes the provision of food, animal products, raw materials for industries, employment and revenue for the people and the Nation.

One role of Livestock farming, a major aspect of Agriculture, is the provision of food and Animal products for the population in general. Snail farming a form of Livestock farming, provides both food (meat) and products for the transformation of our Agricultural sector in Nigeria. Odeyinka (2014) in his own opinion feels that massive Snail production is vital to Nigeria’s economy.

The nutrient content of Snail meat compares very favourably with that of other conventional livestock. In some school of thought the high iron content of snail meat is considered important for the treatment of anemia and in some cases the meat is recommended for combating ulcer and asthma.

Snail meat represents a relatively cheaper source of animal protein when compared to conventional sources like Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Pigs and Poultry (Yoloye, 1984; Ademola et al., 2004; Fagbuaro et al., 2006).

Snail meat is popularly known as ‘Congo meat’ in many parts of Nigeria. Land snails are regularly consumed in the European cuisine. It is no secret that many people find snails to be delicious as an appetizer or as a main course. In France, snail dish is very popular and is called “Escargot”. In Greece and Italy, Snails are often consumed in a diversity of dishes and sometimes they are even used in sauces and poured over various types of pasta.

In West Africa, snail meat has traditionally been a major ingredient in the diets of the people living in high forest belt.

In Nigeria, though consumption figures are not available; there is a high demand for snail meat which outstrips supply. Nowadays in Nigeria, molluscs serve as a significant and essential part of the diet of the people of Cross River and Akwa Ibom States, Itsekiris, Yorubas and many other coastal tribes.

It therefore follows that Snail farming if encouraged would impact very positively on the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of Nigeria.

Industrial transformation

As aforesaid there is no aspect of the Snail that is not useful. The shell of snails can be put to appropriate industrial usage. In the production of Livestock feeds for instance, Calcium and Phosphorous can be obtained from the shell of snails.

Adewuyi (2014) in his own opinion, feels that snail shells could be used in the construction industry and canvasses the use  of mollusc shells as a form of waste management.  This is equally the view of Ohimain et al. (2009) who state that the chemical properties of snail shell adequately qualify it to be used in the civil construction industry.  There is need therefore, to encourage further research in this area as it would ultimately lead to increased revenue for government through the reduction of importation of feed ingredients like calcium and phosphorous and construction materials like cement. The country can also export to other countries.

Snail shells also have natural beauty. Artistic creativity can be done on the shell of snails to obtain colourful art works through polishing, painting and use of artistic designs. According to Amubode and Fafunwa (2014), the aesthetic value of snail shells cannot be over-emphasized as they are used for beautification in hotels, museums, homes, traditional marriages and cultural festivals. Government with the appropriate policy can encourage this form of art and thus create jobs for youths in the country.

Pharmaceutical transformation

          The possible pharmaceutical importance of the Giant African Land Snail (GALS) is multidimensional in nature. Snail meat contains low level of sodium, cholesterol and high level of potassium; hence it is used in the treatment of Arteriosclerosis, Anemia, high blood pressure and fat related ailments. It has been claimed that snail meat helps to reduce hemorrhoids and constipation, restores virility and vitality.

In traditional medicine, snail meat is used in the preparation of concoctions for various cases like reduction of labour pain, blood loss in a pregnant woman during delivery, preparation of love medicine to restore peace between a husband and wife and among wives in polygamous homes. There are also claims in folk medicine that patients suffering from diseases like diabetes, ulcers, small pox, pneumonia, impotence and whooping cough have all been cured through consumption of snail meat (Adikwu, 2012).

Ajibola et al. (2013) claimed that mucin from snails slime have many biological properties of medical importance. Snail mucin a glycosoaminoglycan (GAG) is a high molecular weight polysaccharide with anti-bacterial, anti-inflamatory, local anesthetic and cation binding effects. The high viscous and hydrophilic nature of this molecule accounts for these properties. Thus, Ajibola et al. (2013) concluded from a preliminary investigation that snail mucin offers a good prospect in the treatment of hypertension, arrhythemia and angina pector’s in man.

In another study, the anti-fatigue effect of the Achortan sulphate exhibited in the Forced Swimming Test (Shim et al., 2002) showed its possible tendency to also treat psychotic disorders. Besides, the elemental analysis of the bluish water (haemolymph) by Ademolu et al. (2006) showed a high content of magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. This is an indication of the possibility that haemolymph or bluish water of Giant African Land Snail (GALS) may be a source of dietary supplements (just like we have the cod liver oil now and readily available for purchase and consumption) (Fred-Jaiyesim, 2014). Thus it would be necessary for the private sector to partner with the academia with very strong support from government to research into the possible role of snail meat in the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Economic Transformation

Nigeria’s economic recovery programmes necessitate a radical shift from total dependence on government for jobs to self-employment. One such attractive area of self-employment is snail rearing (Heliculture). It is a great money-spinning business that can provide a substantial source of protein to complement Nigerian carbohydrate meals. However this can only be achieved if government puts in place the necessary policy and implements it. Where there is no political will there can be no radical success.

As already stated, there is a flourishing international trade in Europe and North America for snails. In France, the annual requirement is about 5 million kg, over 10% 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 diets of people living in the forest belt. In Cote d’Ivoire, for example, an estimated 7.9 million kg is eaten annually (Amubode and Fafanwa, 2014).

In Nigeria, although the consumption figures are not available, it is clear that demand outstrips supply. Thus, snail meat stands as a worthy alternative to other sources of animal protein. Many of the recipes found in some restaurants are spin offs from what is cooked in the European countries. Millions of kilogrammes of snails are consumed around the world annually. In fact, there is even a day to celebrate the ‘Snail’. May 24th is the National Escargot Day celebrated globally (Bio Expedition, 2014) which I may wish to suggest this noble body (NetGALS) to reposition their international conference/workshop to fall on the date to enable them join the world to celebrate the ‘Snail’ globally.

Conclusion

Snail farming provides an excellent platform for Agricultural, Industrial, Pharmaceutical and Economic Transformation in Nigeria. From this keynote address, it is therefore important that snail farming (heliculture/ Archatiniculture) should be encouraged on both small and large scale. The same attention paid to other conventional livestock like poultry and pigs should be given to snails. Since the conventional livestock production rates today cannot keep pace with the expected 30% rise in  world population from 7.03% billion in 2010 to 9.14 million in 2030 (Odeyinka, 2014), there is need for a more aggressive approach to Agriculture.

Therefore, concerted efforts must be made by snail Nutritionists to produce diets for all classes/ages of snails for high growth rate and reproduction.

I congratulate the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) and give special kudos to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with National Universities Commission (NUC) for the introduction of Micro-livestock production ( of which snail farming is a component) as a course in the curricula for the undergraduate, post-graduate diploma and graduate students in the current (New) NUC Minimum Benchmark for Animal Science Department, NetGALS, your calls, yearnings and aspirations have been answered and achieved.

I congratulate the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of Research Network of Giant African Land Snails (NetGALS) for a job well done and I look forward to very interesting, fruitful, stimulating and enlightening sessions in the paper presentations and communiqué at the end of the conference.

Finally and definitely not the least I sincerely thank two very fine gentlemen and academics, Dr. Bassey Okon and Dr. Lawrence Ibom who worked very hard to put this paper together.

Thank you all and may God Bless you.

Prof. B. I. Okon

References

Ademolu, K. O, Idowu A. B, Mafiana, C. F and Osinowo, O. A. (2004). Performance, proximate and mineral analyses of African Giant Land Snail (Archachatina marginata) fed different nitrogen sources. African J. Biotech. 3(8): 412-417

Adewuyi, A. P. (2014). Relevance of Residues of Snail farming to Civil Engineering Construction works. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference/Workshop on Giant African Land Snails (NetGALS). Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, 1-4th January, pg xviii-xxviii

Adikwu, M. U. (2012). Snail production for sustainable development and good health. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference of Giant African Land Snails, 12th – 15th Feb, 2012, pg. 3-7.

Ajibola, E.S., Rahman, S. A., Ademolu, K. O, Biobaku, K. T. and Okwelum, N. 2013). Preliminary investigation on the effects of crude extract of snail mucin from the Giant African Land Snail (Archachatina marginata) on heart functions. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference/workshop on Giant African Land Snails (NetGALS). Fed. University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, 2nd – 5th June, pg 6-10.

Akinnusi, O. (2002). Introduction to snail and snail farming. Triola Publishing Company, Abeokuta, pg 70.

Asuquo, B. O. (2012). Animal Breeding and Food sufficiency in Nigeria: Vision 20:20-20 and the 7-point Agenda. Inaugural lecture, University of Calabar, pg. 42

Amubode, A. A and Fafunwa, F. (2014). Snail farming and Hospitality Industries. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference/Workshop on Giant African Land Snails (NetGALS), Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, 1st – 4th June, 2014, pg. xxxi – xxxvi

Bio Expedition (2014). Snails as food. Available on http://www.snail-world.com/snails-as-food/

Ebenebe, C. I. (2000). Mini-livestock production in Nigeria. The present and the future. Proceedings of the 5th Annual Conference, ASAN. Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Pg. 19-22

Fagbuaro, O., Oso, J. A., Edward, J. B. and Ogunleye, R. E. (2006). Nutritional status of four species of Giant African Land Snails in Nigeria. Journal of Zhejiang University Science. B. 7(9):686-689

FMA & WR, (2008). Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. National programme on Food Security. FMA & WR, Abuja.

Fred-Jaiyesimi, A. A. (2014). Snails: Source of potential Dynamic nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference/Workshop on Giant African Land Snails (NetGALS), Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, 1st – 4th June, 2014, pg. xxix – xxxx

Hodasi, J. K. M. (1983). The potentials of snail farming in West Africa. Paper presented at the 8th Annual Conference of Nigerian Society for Animal production (NSAP), Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Nodu, M. B. and Adesope, O. M. (2002). Snail production opportunities in River State. Proceedings, 27th Annual Conference of Nigerian Society for Animal Production, (NSAP). March 17-21, 2002. Akure, Nigeria. Pp 337-338

Odeyinka, S. M. (2014). Animal feed industries and snail farming. Lecture delivered at the 3rd International Conference/Workshop on Giant African Land Snails (GALS) on Monday 2nd June, 2014

Ohimain, E. I., Bassey, S. and Bawo, D. D. S. (2009). Uses of sea shells for civil construction works in coastal Bayelsa state, Nigeria. A waste management perspective. Research Journal of Biological Science, 4(9):1025-1031

Okon, B. (2013). Genetic improvement of Giant African Land Snails (GALS). Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference/Workshop on Giant African Land Snails (NetGALS), International Scholar’s Resource Centre, Abeokuta, 1st – 5th June, 2013, pg. xii – xxi

Okon, B. and Ibom, L. A. (2012). Snail Breeding and Snailery Management. Fresh Dew Publications, Calabar, Nigeria. Pg. 1-70.

Shim, J. Y., Lee, Y. S. Jung, S. H., Choi, H. S., Shin, K. H. and Kil, Y. S. (2002). Pharmacological activities of a new glycosamino-glycan, acharan sulfate isolated from the giant African Land Snail, Achatina fulica. Arch. Pharm. Rev. 25(6):889-894.

Yoloye, V. L. (1984). Molluscs for mankind. Inaugural Lecture. University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *