Snail farming in Kenya has grown gradually with more farmers gaining interest in it. Some have gone a step ahead to create more products from snail in a move that will expand market for Kenyan farmed snails.
Researchers at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) have invented a skincare product from snails’ slimy mucin. It is an interesting invention that not many would think of, let alone dare produce anything out of snails.
Heading the project, Dr. Paul Kinoti said that snails normally produce a secretion referred to as slime which is ideal in making cosmetics.
“Though the cost of producing the skin care products is capital-intensive, the production of snail mucin skincare is currently under way and will hit the market any time once we get a nod from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs),” he said.
The process, though is capital intensive. The machine used to extract the slime was acquired from the west at a cost of $5 million (Ksh 500 million). However, researchers are positive that the venture will open up new markets.
Even so, Kenyan snail farmers produce African Giant Snails which do not produce much mucin. Hence, JKUAT has resulted in importing snail mucin; which is costly. A species of snail known as Helis Aspasia (Brown Snail) is an ideal option since it produces a log of slime. Each snail is able to produce up to 10ml. In this regard, the venture will also see farmers breed Helis Aspasia in order to meet the demand.
The low slime supply in Kenya has forced the university to import slime from the west as well at a cost of EUR 40 per liter of slime which is equivalent to Ksh 4,600 per liter.
Ivy Rosio, a JKUAT student who is part of the team added that snails can be used to produce a wide range of products. They include face creams, liquid soaps, fertilizers as well as organic feeds.
Snail shells are also used to make ornaments and to trap heavy metals in water treatment.
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“They are ground and fed to chicken and fish because of their high calcium content. They are also used in making organic fertilizers, where they are ground and fortified into compost. It works well with all crops due to its high content of nutrients,” she said.
Ivy added that the slime is ideal in making face creams that helps in curbing acnes and dark spots. Slime is also known to have anti-aging properties.
The final products retail at Ksh 1000 ($10) for the face cream for a 200 ml bottle, and Ksh 250 ($2) for a 150 ml of liquid soap.