Recently, snail farming has become affordable for the thousands of poor farm families living in the fringes of cities in Cameroon.
Snail rearing involves cheap labors and a fresh opportunity is enabling farmers to save these endangered animal species from extinction.
Eating snails for meals had long been associated with certain tribes in Cameroon.
Consumers prefer snail meat to beef, pork and other regular sources of protein because they are, very nutritious, lean meat, low cholesterol, [provide] a lot of energy and will be prescribed to nursing mothers and malnourished children as affordable source of protein.
Snails which were once scavenged in the bushes for food and incomes are now reared in homes.
The use of pesticides in many plantation farms across Cameroon is blamed on the decrease in snail production reason why Heifer Cameroon initiated a home base production scheme for the farm families.
Today a scarcity in production has precipitated a need to match supply with demand.
The development organization Heifer Cameroon has been working with some communities across the south west, littoral and western regions of Cameroon to support the rearing and marketing of snails as part of its efforts to end hunger and unsustainable land use systems in Cameroon.
Dr. Henry Njakoi, a Veterinary doctor and Heifer’s Country Director in Cameroon, says it’s thanks to existing Snail farming technology in neighboring countries, the farmers already have some knowledge of their own to contribute to the effort.
So his organization is concentrating on other aspects of training farm families to produce snails, how to create a conducive habitat, provide nutrition, and promote good health and reproduction.
“When you provide the right conditions, they actually do multiply and get ready for the market,” Dr, Njakoi explains.
Since village farmers lack refrigeration facilities, Heifer International Cameroon teaches other methods of preservation.
Heifer International Cameroon is also involved in the mentoring of farm families on integrated Agriculture.
During this rigorous capacity building workshops the farmers are motivated with food crop seeds and farm inputs as a Heifer International Cameroon gift to enable them put their new skills into action.
These seeds provide food crops for the farmers as well as feed for the animals they rear.
In areas where the farm families have only starch to eat the snail meat provide a source of alternative income and protein for the families, thereby enabling them to afford a balance diet.
Many farmer common initiative groups have benefitted from these initiatives to boast their community snail farming projects.
The impact has being positive change that has reverberated through these groups in to their homes.
Some are still negotiating with the development organization to benefit from their assistance, while others are in the first face of enjoying the largesse.
Pauline Boni Nkenfac 43, is a highly spirited woman.
Pauline lives with her husband and ten children in the town of Melong in the littoral region.
Pauline is a female tradi-practitioner who before receiving training on snail rearing and processing from Heifer Cameroon through Groupe d’Initiative Commune Promotrice in 2007 had very limited knowledge of how to keep snails.
Heifer Cameroon’s gifts of 1500 adult snails to Pauline and group members after a mentoring training helped, to develop her insatiable appetite for her healing feat.
Rearing snail’s enhanced the woman’s ability to use the snail by-products for the treatment of headache, stomach disorder, eye defects, back pain, ears problems and dizziness.
Pauline demonstrating how she administered treatment narrated “Burn the (shells) in the hot fire to make it dry, grind on a stone to ensure it turns in to powder form, and at this point mix with palm oil for the treatment of stomach ache and back pain, repeat this as many times as possible” she said.
Pauline makes a monthly income of 120$ from the treatment of patients in her community and beoynd with snail by products Pauline has also prescribed a meal of snail meat as a panacea to attract good sleep for those who suffer from lack of sleep or dizziness in her community.
Today Pauline is a source of inspiration to other women and men in her community.
Agnes Epite a mother of five kids live in the outskirt of kumba, in the south west region of Cameroon.
Like almost every woman in her community received a medical doctor’s advice to eat snail meat during pregnancy and after being delivered of her bouncing baby had this to say
“I ate snail meat and had a lot of strength and delivered of my baby safely unlike in the past when I endured a lot of pain during labor”.
Many farmers who suffer from dehydration as a result of ill health consume snails meat as a means to regain their strength.
Josiah Egbe is a tall handsome dark man referred to in his community as “Tanyi” (father of twin) within the snail farming project in Cameroon,
Josiah is a special case because out of passion he started his project before help came his way from Heifer Cameroon .
Josiah his wife and five children live in Ekona village some 10km from Buea in the coast of Cameroon.
After the Heifer Cameroon assistance to Josiah through his Nchemty palms farmer group.
His sense of bravery in keeping to good management snow balled to a victory.
In a year he was keeping 5000 snails.
“If you don’t keep snails you cannot understand their habits”. He said.
His untiring quest to continuously sustain the income and nutritional level of his family caused the farmer to inculcate a gender perspective to his project.
Working as a couple motivated the family financially to give seriousness to their snail project.
I’m really glad for what I have become” Josiah said putting up his routine smile.
The farmer’s family feeds well and a balance diet has reduced their medical expenses over the years.
From the project Josiah has sourced income to renovate his house and to educate his kids. The farmer by his village standards is a wealthy man.
An aluminium pot is a very precious asset for women in jungle village of Kake 11 in the south west region of Cameroon.
After benefiting from Heifer Cameroon training and motivation in 2009
Mbah Bridget one of the 20 women in Ambitious Women’s Common Initiative Group started her own farm.
Gradually it expanded.
She was able to take herself and family out of poverty.
“All of us through the sale of snails bought precious utensils and aluminium pots, the ownership has given us recognition as other women come to borrow from us”
Some 16 members of her group have earned 120$ from the sale of snails.
The income has enabled them to pay school bills for 42 children and to complement their meals with snail protein meat.
At Pendamboko village some 67km from Douala in Cameroon Groupe d’Initiative Commune Dynamique with 15 farm families had sold snails for 500$.
This income enabled them to sponsor their children at different levels in schools and to provide medical assistance, to their love ones.
Most of these group members are saving money in loan and shrift schemes “njangi”for rainy days.
This project has not only rekindled the pride of these women but has given them a voice in development.
Most of them are now in leadership positions championing the fight against poverty in their community.
Source: Aaron Kaah