This study examined snail production in Enugu State, Nigeria using cross-sectional data. It was guided by five specific objectives namely: describing the socio-economic characteristics of snail farmers in Enugu State, snail production system/rearing techniques in the study area, determining the cost and returns from snail farming in the study area, estimating factors influencing profitability of snail production in the area and identifying constraints facing snail farmers in the study area. The study employed a combination of proportionate and multistage random sampling techniques for the selection of 70 snail farmers that constituted the respondents for the study. Data analytical techniques used were descriptive statistics, gross margin and profit function analysis. The findings of the study revealed that 95.7% of the sampled respondents were within the economically active age bracket (21-50 years). About 87.14% of the respondents were males while 12.86 % were female. Average household size was seven persons, with majority (52.86%) having household members whose sizes ranged from 5-8 persons. The mean farming experience was seven years indicating that most of the farmers had been in the business for a long time and were therefore conversant with the problems of snail production in the study area. About 67% of the respondents were married. Majority (44%) of the snail farmers practiced trench pens production techniques. Average number of snails per farmer was 465 snails with average revenue of N70,879.00 in a production cycle of six months. The average labor utilization was 53.69 man-days per snail farmer. Three marketing channels were identified. These were (a) producers to consumers (b) producers to wholesalers to retailers to consumers and (c) producers to wholesalers to consumers. Gross margin and net profit were N 54,955.77 and N 47,367.25 per snail farmer per one cycle respectively. The return per naira on investment was 2.01. This shows that snail production enterprise is profitable and this might go a long way to boost their income thereby improving their livelihood. Output price positively and significantly influenced the profitability of snail production in the study area, while labour cost, feed cost and land cost (rental value of land) all had negative and significant effects on the level of profit. The R2 value of about 0.891 shows that the regressed variables explained 89% of the variability in profit. All the regressed variables were in line with a priori expectations. Based on these findings, the study recommended that the state government should provide incentives to snail farmers to boost their production considering the gross margin and net profit of snail farming; due to significant influence of price on profitability of snail farming, government should help maintain stable price for snails in the state.

1.1      Background Information
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 under domestication, but the time to start breeding snail is at the beginning of the rainy season when feeds of snail are available. The foundation stock may be from the following sources: Snail farmers, research institutes that produce snails or direct collection from the forest or bush. Edible land snails, though hermaphrodite, reproduce by fertilization of two ova when two snails mate and exchange their sperms reciprocally. The eggs, about two weeks after fertilization are laid at night in holes dug 5 – 15cm deep in the soil.

The hatchlings remain in the soil for 3 – 5 days after in situ hatching method. Snails feed on a wide variety of food mostly in the night at dusk, i.e. snails are nocturnal and crepuscular. They may feed during the day when it rains or there is very dark cloud (Akintomide, 1997). The advantages of snail farming (heliciculture) over most other livestock includes low capital requirements, for its establishment and operation, less demand for professional knowledge, very high fecundity and low mortality, less labour requirement, and availability of ready domestic and international markets among others (Akinbile, 2000). Some constraints that militate against good performance of snail includes genetic constituent, hormonal influence, environmental factors, rearing pattern...

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