SNAIL PRODUCTION IN BAYELSA STATE, NIGERIA TECHNOLOGIES, PRODUCTIVITY AND ENHANCEMENT MEASURES
Snail production (heliciculture) is inc reasingly becoming popular in Bayelsa State, occasioned by the high demand for snail meat due to shortage of other sources of animal protein and the expected income from the increasing price of snail. However, there is dearth of documented empirical research record on the level of application of heliciculture technologies as well as the productivity of farmers’ which could form basis for improving this area of food production. The study was thus designed to determine the level of application of snail production technologies by the farmers, farmers’ productivity, constraints and measures for enhancing their productivity. The study was guided by ten research questions and seven null hypotheses. Descriptive survey research design was adopted for the study. There was no sampling as the entire population of 153 registered snail farmers was used for the study. The instrument used for data collection was a 214 items questionnaire that was face validated by five experts. An internal consistency coefficient of 0.66 was obtained for the instrument through the Cronbach alpha procedure. Data collected were analyzed using the mean to answer research questions 1-5 and 9-10, while gross margin and profit analysis were employed to answer research questions 6-8. The null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance using t-test. It was found that the following technologies were highly applied by the farmers in snail production: farm fencing, raised wooden snailery, Arorchachatina marginata species, feeding with plant parts, de-shelling, gutting, de-sliming and treading live snails with ropes for sale; whereas substrate liming, moating and trapping with nets were moderately applied. Technologies such as substrate inoculation, commercial feeding, egg candling, foot dipping and stocking Achatina achatina species, were seldomly adopted whereas purging snails, quarantine services, substrate sterilization, employing veterinary services, keeping farm records and stocking Achatina fulica species, were not applied by the snail farmers. Literacy, experience, location, gender and scale of production have no influence on the level of application of snail production technologies by the farmers. An average production cost of N6,449/m2/yr was incurred while a yield of 317 adult snails/m2/yr was produced. On the average, farmers realized a net profit of N13,162/m2/yr, as well as a proceed of N2.00/yr per naira outlay with a pay back period of 121/2 months. However, shortage of improved species, lack of heliciculture extension services, seasonal flooding of snail farms among others were identified as the major constraints of farmers. Thus, it was recommended among others that modern heliciculture technologies that can improve snail production should be packaged and made available at affordable price to agric. extension agents and farmers, regular workshops should be organized for farmers by ADP, state government should establish snail breeding centers and that good drainages be constructed in the farms to improve this area of food production in the study area.