ECONOMICS OF SNAIL PRODUCTION IN ENUGU EAST AGRICULTURAL ZONE OF ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA
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) producerprs 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.