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Snail farming

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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.

In the Melong community the snails’ project is providing a steady supply of meat and income for the 14 members of Groupe d’Initiative Commune Promotrice “I sold over 4buckets of snails at 35$ and used the income to secure better treatment for my ill health” one of group members Meshinjou Lucia said. The project is also helping the group to recreate their environment. “We are planting trees on our farms to attract the animal” Pauline Boni said. More importantly the trees not only protect their environment but are fertilizing their farms for good food crop production. Joseph Wamba member of the same group thinks. Today influential in all areas of development the common initiative group has set some priorities for their community “we are also involve in educating our community on the effects of HIV and AIDS and the farming of plantain and cocoyam feed for snails ” Sydony Njuemtsop of the group said. These members have undergone HIV and AIDS voluntary counseling and testing and are proud to be all healthy. Their healthy status has rekindled their desire not only to campaign for an HIV and AIDS free Melong but to abstain from sexual immorality.

Nchemty palm farmers group in Ekona around the coast of Cameroon farms snails in a unique free range garden system. This method permit’s the animals to move from one place to the next in the garden in which food crops are grown and plants propagated unlike with other farmer organizations “With much concentration in our garden we constructed a snail village” Robert the president said. Tourist came from far and near, paying money to see the experiences of the group. The group has sold over 20,000 snails at 1000$ in the last four years. “This income has helped us to do a lot for our group families”. One of the group members Martin who built a new house recently with financial support from his group said with excitement.

While Wamba Joseph alias Massa Yo feels that income from the sale of snails has boasted the self esteem of many farmers across Cameroon in West Africa who are delighted to tell their story of self reliant, expectations are high for the members of Rural Agro Friends in Bachuo Akagbe in the south west region of cameroon awaiting support from Heifer Cameroon. The group hopes that the snail farming development project will enable them keep their children in school and afford their basic needs. Their daring desire is to re-enrol 28 children, belonging to group members who had withdrawn from school due to limited resources and to construct new houses for themselves. Ako Eyong Dianna, 16 and Ako Laurantine, 11 are orphans only dreaming of education in the remote village of Bachou. “I had an accident in my leg that left me hospitalized for two months; all the money for my education was used on medical bills, since then, I have not been able to go to school because we have not recovered from the financial shock, each day I see children go to school I cannot help but cry”. Diana lamented. The children have faced endless challenges but their hopes are clued to the snail project as they await help from the development organization.

Etta Sophie Ebob 53, a single mother with nine has faced agonizing and painful moments trying to make ends meet in the mfuni countryside some 38KM from Mamfe town in the coast of Cameroon. Sophie has gone in to the collection of snails as a self help initiative before her group is offered training and food aid. She is already dreaming of the day when her group will enjoy the benefits of the project.”In July 2010, I was sick of typhoid; had no money to go to hospital. I gathered some herbs, made a concoction, drank and felt much better. I yearn for when Heifer Cameroon will aid our project, this will enable me source enough cash to take proper care my health and that of my children and grand children”. Sophie wished. The lady has also endured it all living a large family in a grass roof thatch hut. Longing to expand and refurbish her “house” Sophie believes that the assistance will be the very essence for their survival, either in providing income for school bills or three meals for their table.

In the Littoral Region of Cameroon members of Groupe d’Initiative Commune Paysans Halieuk have prepared themselves in readiness for their snail project to be supported, “Due to the high demand for snail meat and its scarcity we hope to rear it to ameliorate our income levels” Nkanche Daniel president of the group said. After Heifer Cameroon’s introductory phase to the group, project members have collected 50 snails each as part of their contributions to the success of the project. “If we have good material to build good houses for the snails, the expansion will be rapid” one member prayed. According Teckwango Jean Paul, rearing snails will reduce the risk their children face when poaching the animal at night in the near by bushes and forest. “Our children use to go out in the nights in search of snails; if we are assisted to keep them at home that will be good for us”. Jean Paul hopes that their children will save time reading their books and concentrating on their studies and that will improve on their performance in school. 

In the farmers groups awaiting the Heifer Cameroon largess they is a common appealed “All of us in this group are asking for the trust and confidence of Heifer International Cameroon and her partners to help us, because with our full commitment and determination we can succeed in the snail farming project”. 

Heifer’s Country Director in Cameroon, Dr Njakoi is encouraging farmers to contact Heifer International Cameroon, which also supports the development of animals in the local farming system, like pigs, goats and sheep for assistance. According to Dr, Njakoi all that is required to benefit from Heifer’s support is a strong demonstration of interest. He says individuals are welcome, but groups work better.

Aaron Kaah

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 2:19 PM,


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