The molluscs are increasingly being sought for their mucus, said to be full of collagen, glycolic acid, antibiotics and other compounds that regenerate skin cells and heal cuts.
Oluwatobilola is preparing to ship her fist consignment of 1,000 snails to the United Kingdom.
“The export business came when I started here in Lagos and I had a lot of enquiries from the US from the UK from Holland. Like a lot of Nigerians like, even when I knew that I have not even covered Lagos, even till now I have still not covered Lagos you know, so when I started having enquiries via email, via phone calls, then a lot of African stores were calling me… Oh, can you supply us, and you know in my head it just clicked that oh there is a market for it, so that is how the export business started. Even though it took me a while to be able to find out the modalities of exporting snails you know, outside of Nigeria,” said Oluwatobilola.
Snails are hermaphrodites which means they can all lay eggs. The farm currently has over 20,000 snails.
“Because of its amazing benefits, not just nutritional benefits, but other benefits, for instance the slime now, it is being harvested massively and used in cosmetics and — cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, it has rejuvenating properties and helps with skin rejuvenation,” he said.
Oluwatobilola has spent about 4,000 US dollars to procure and ship this consignment of snails and expects to make a healthy profit.
Shipping of livestock requires that traders meet strict regulations. She contacted a cargo company that regularly handles livestock shipments to help guide her through the lengthy process.
“In terms of sourcing you know in large quantities, you have to really have your game really really tight, then having the right people who would freight for you, because I know a lot of people have issues, they tell me it took them like one week or two weeks, so by the time they get their goods its either it is rotten or the customers are not interested, or they are not as fresh as they were. So before I could get a freighting company that was reliable, it took time because you know, at the end of the day, you are looking at — you are spending a lot of money into this, you don’t just want to something wishy-washy and at the end of the day your life saving just goes down the drain,” said Oluwatobilola.
Oluwatobilola says she plans to expand her business and open a snail factory in Nigeria that can process snail meat and collect mucus, as well as grind snail shells into powder for fertilizer and poultry feed possessing.