Another of the ecological products that we can grow for our sustainability are the snails, as an example, see this article that explains the possibilities of this crop.
Snails hit the accelerator on the farm
Spain has gone from 26 to 614 farms in 20 years for the increase in consumption of these gastropods
JESÚS A. CAÑAS
Cádiz 22 APR 2018 – 09:14 CEST
Miguel Ángel Toledo operates a small snail farm in Olvera (Cádiz). J. CARLOS TORO
It was a bar talk, one of those that Miguel Ángel Toledo attends daily in his cafeteria in Olvera (Cádiz). Two clients talked about the fate of a third party in the snail farm business. Although his wife called him “crazy,” the innkeeper smelled the opportunity and launched. “That’s a year ago and now I’m about to pick up my first harvest,” the businessman proudly acknowledges as he feeds the nearly 750 kilos of snails that are raised on his small farm. Toledo is one of the 614 entrepreneurs who, in Spain, have launched into the business of the heliciculture, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
In spite of its novelty and being practically unknown, this expanding livestock subsector does not stop winning followers. “Of the 26 farms that were in 2000 to which there is now growth is overwhelming,” says José Antonio Marcelo, heliciculturist and president of the National Association of Breeding and Fattening Caracol (Ancec). And the business interest is not casual. The Ministry estimates that in Spain they eat about 16 million kilos of gastropods per year, which makes it the second consumer country in the world, behind France.
Given such volume, the country imports about 12,000 tons per year of wild snails, from Morocco, Mauritania or Eastern European countries. “Farms barely contribute 3% of what is commercialized, but we are expanding and we believe that we will grow up to 30%. That supposes quintuplicar the sales “, recognizes Marcelo.
The promising forecasts boost a sector that increases year after year, especially in Andalusia which already concentrates 38% of the total of farms, followed by Aragón (12%), Cataluña (10%) and Castilla la Mancha (10%).
The national consumption reaches 16 million kilograms per year
With an assured market, the business requires an investment that goes from the 4,000 euros spent by Toledo to build his farm of 300 square meters to the 50,000 that Marcelo estimates are necessary to create one of about 3,000 square meters.
Inside, the burinco or Helix aspersa grows, the species that best supports captive breeding in systems that usually combine techniques between the extensive and the intensive. Fed with a combination of alfalfa and calcium-rich feed, this is how the snails from the farm of the Cádiz-born businessman are developed, which, after a year of fattening, will be ready to be sold in less than two weeks.
Snails are a complete food that contains proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins A, B9, B3 and E, iron and potassium. The helicicultores highlight the quality of the farm snail – which they call colloquially “Iberian snail” -, since it is an animal that usually condenses in its interior the toxicity of what they consume and in the wild one can not know if the grass they have Ingested could be treated with any type of pesticide or not. In addition, farm animals tend to be whiter and tenderier.
They are a very complete food, with proteins, vitamins, iron and potassium
“On the basis, it may seem simple, but it is a cold-blooded gastropod. He has to live between 15 and 25 degrees and everything that comes out of it stresses him. In addition, it needs moisture and that can cause bacteria and diseases, “says Francisco Borjas, specialist technician of the Institute of Research and Training in Agriculture and Fisheries (Ifapa) of Hinojosa del Duque (Córdoba).
Its center is one of the most recognized in Spain and, since they began with the heliciculture in 2002, they have already trained more than a thousand people from all parts of Spain. Many of them came during the worst years of the crisis, hoping “in what was their way of life”, as Borjas recognizes. But Marcelo shows his skepticism: “It is a livestock farm with all its requirements, we work with horns, only smaller ones: nutrition, health and genetics are fundamental, which has made many people desist when they see that it is not so easy”.
Faced with this, President Ancec draws a clear profile of the heliciculturist who has found success. “They tend to be small farms, focused on self-employment and that can serve as a complement for farmers who carry out another activity,” says Marcelo.
It is just the plan Toledo had when he started his farm in his father’s family farm. Now, he hopes to sell his burgajos at about 7.5 euros per kilo. With what I earn , under the trademark Caracoles del Molino, and dreams of the next step that will give: “I would like to incorporate a line of products already clean, cooked and packaged. I know that this is the future and that it will work. “