Eco-Friendly and Profitable: The Untold Story of Snail Farming in Nakuru

In the lush landscapes of Nakuru, Kenya, Wangui Waweru, an enterprising woman, founded the Gold Dust Snail Farm six years ago. Her journey into the world of mollusks began in 2017, sparked by an accidental tasting of snail meat. This experience, initially met with trepidation, burgeoned into a deep interest, leading Wangui to explore the ins and outs of snail rearing.

Her pursuit of knowledge took her across East Africa, from Uganda’s experienced snail farmers to Kigali’s advanced techniques. Wangui’s dedication to learning and her subsequent venture into snail farming marked a bold divergence from conventional agricultural practices in Kenya—a country where the concept of snail farming was virtually unheard of, often met with skepticism and unfounded superstitions.

Snails: More Than Just a Delicacy

Snails, although widely recognized as a delicacy in parts of Asia, West Africa, and South Africa, were relatively unknown in Kenya’s culinary scene. Wangui’s farm not only introduced this exotic dish to the Kenyan palate but also tapped into a market predominantly consisting of expatriates from snail-consuming regions. However, the tide is turning, and more Kenyans are embracing snails as a nutritious and delicious food source.

Rich in white meat and packed with essential vitamins like B12, B16, and B18, snails from Gold Dust Farm are organically raised, ensuring the highest quality. Wangui’s venture extends beyond mere snail meat. The farm capitalizes on the burgeoning demand for snail by-products, particularly snail slime, which is a prized ingredient in the beauty industry due to its rejuvenating properties.

A Goldmine in Snail Cavalier and Bi-Products

One of the farm’s most lucrative products is snail cavalier. In European and Asian markets, a kilogram can fetch up to $2,000, underscoring its high value. Wangui encourages those grappling with unemployment in Kenya to consider snail farming as a viable and profitable alternative.

In addition to culinary uses, snail shells find their purpose in animal feed as a calcium source and in artisanal crafts for decoration. Wangui has innovatively utilized snail slime in creating an array of beauty products, including face masks, scrubbers, and soaps. Her trial distributions within the community have garnered overwhelmingly positive responses, positioning her to launch these products commercially upon receiving KEBS certification.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities Beyond Farming

Wangui emphasizes that one doesn’t need to be a snail farmer to benefit from this industry. Entrepreneurs can purchase snail slime and create their products, tapping into a niche but growing market in Kenya.

Sustainability and Cost-Effectiveness

Snail farming, as outlined by Wangui, is a sustainable endeavor with minimal environmental impact. Snails require basic sustenance such as kale, carrots, calcium, and water, and are sensitive to overfeeding. This aspect makes snail farming a low-cost, high-return venture, ideal for entrepreneurs looking for eco-friendly business options.

Getting Started with Snail Farming

Wangui herself invested Ksh.250,000 initially but asserts that one can start with as little as Ksh.40,000. The initial investment would cover breeder snails, basic infrastructure, and essential training. She underscores the importance of passion, knowledge, and adherence to regulatory requirements, including obtaining a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Services.

Seizing the Opportunity

Wangui, alongside Justine Nyachieo, a business mentor, emphasizes the importance of taking initiative. In the realm of snail farming, success awaits those bold enough to start. This venture is not just about rearing snails; it’s about pioneering a new agricultural chapter in Kenya, tapping into untapped markets, and embracing sustainability in business.

This narrative, showcasing Wangui’s journey and the potential of snail farming, serves not only as an informative piece but also as a persuasive call to action for aspiring entrepreneurs. It highlights the blend of innovation, sustainability, and profitability inherent in this unique agricultural venture.

Justine Nyachieo Business Man & Mentor +254754839228