Don’t be fooled, snails may not move very fast, but these shelled creatures are making South African farmers a lot of money. In a recent Gather To Grow session, Food For Mzansi spoke with snail farmers to hear more about this small, but growing industry in Mzansi.
When it comes to snail farming, climate is everything. What may work in Europe might not work back here in South Africa, explains Rory Schultz, founder of Wall Fish Farm, and Michael Beetge, co-founder of Goshen Snail Farm.
In Europe, snail farming is best suited during summer, but in Mzansi there are regions where you can get a slower growth rate due to weather conditions, Beetge says. However, snails can be bred throughout the year in Mzansi.
“We started with a third of a hectare farm; we are on 3 200 squares, and our goal is to achieve 16 tonnes of snails per circle from that size table.
He also talks costs implications. “The prices vary from region to region, but we were in a region of about R550 000 to get the whole project up and running,”
The session also offers information on the difference between raising these gastropods indoors and outdoors, different farming strategies, food, markets and much more.
Meanwhile, Schultz offers advice on an outdoor breeding strategy. He also shares how he initially assumed that he could breed snails in his own time as a pilot project, but now realises how labour-intensive it can be.
“In terms of learning, it was a good exercise. In terms of producing anything saleable, it was an absolutely disaster. [For] my second season, I’ve gone for what I refer to as flat farming… and it is easier to manage,” he says.
In this session, experts also unpack:
- Hygiene and housing;
- Hibernation and aestivation; and
- Packaging and snail export markets.
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