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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Snail farming in Cyprus showing slow growth ]

Snail farming in Cyprus showing slow growth

SNAIL farming could be one of the most lucrative businesses in Cyprus, with the island’s climate making it ideal for the sector to prosper but no one is taking advantage, it emerged yesterday.

A special report presented during a discussion at the House Agriculture Committee showed that international demand for snails was so staggering that if the whole of Cyprus was filled with snail farms, it still wouldn’t satisfy foreign demand.

However during the session it emerged that the sector hadn’t even been included in the Agricultural Development Plan (ADP), which agricultural organisations said should change.

The Agriculture Ministry also lacks knowledge and human resources to develop snail farming, deputies heard.

There are currently around 150 snail farms operating in Cyprus with little or no guidance, which as a consequence leads to insufficient inspections by the state.

Farmers also lack the technical knowledge to maintain the farms. Some of the responsibility also lies with snail farmers, most of who fail to register at the Ministry.

The first senior officer of the Veterinary Services, Pavlos Tomazou, called on snail farmers to register so the relevant services can carry out health and safety inspections, but also for the farmers’ own protection.

“Snail production seems like a sector with great prospects so the Veterinary Services, with inspections to spot illnesses and guarantee the protection of consumers, are in the process of preparing a Plan of Order, which we will discuss with all involved bodies,” he said.

As things stand today, there are only two or three government officials that deal with snail farming, but Tomazou hopes that by the end of the year, there will be better coordination.

Tomazou said efforts would be made to seek EU funding to help the sector. “We will try to find a way to absorb EU funds.”

He advised prospective snail farmers to seek all the information they need first and create the necessary substructure before creating their business.

Representing the Larnaca Intercollege research team, Evangelos Evangelou presented the Committee with a study by the college into the prospects of snail farming in Cyprus. The results were encouraging.

According to the study, Cyprus is ideal for developing snail farming, mainly due to its climate, and the profit margins for setting up such a business should not be scoffed at, it said.

Evangelou said it would cost prospective snail farmers €19,500 to set up their business, with no return for the first year. The second year, however, they would spend around €2,800 on maintenance and receive €5,000 in income.

By the third year, expenses would increase to €3,650 and income to €19,600.

“By the third year, farmers will have made all their money back, with a net profit of €15,000 a year from then on, which isn’t bad for 250 hours work over the year,” said Evangelou.

“Based on 2007 statistics, international snail consumption reached around 430,000 tonnes, worth around $7 billion,” he added. “If we examine the biological circle of a snail’s development, they live, grow and reproduce in specific temperatures. In Cyprus, we have a huge advantage to develop this sector because of our climate.”

This could only be achieved through training programmes, he added.

A survey by the Commerce Ministry on the market has shown that France was one of the biggest importers of snails in the EU, while Cyprus would have Greece, Italy and Spain to compete with in the snail industry.

After the meeting, DISY Deputy Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis said the discussion had proved extremely useful.

“This is an innovative sector, with great prospects for Cyprus’ economy as an alternative to the classic agricultural sectors,” said Hadjiyiannis. “If the right actions were taken, Cyprus could turn into one of the biggest snail exporters in central Europe.”

Developing snail farming, he added, would prove hugely beneficially to Cyprus as a nation, which was why he felt it was imperative the sector is included in the ADP.

“We are funding sectors that don’t bring results but this sector will be very productive,” said Hadjiyiannis, adding: “Once there is coordination among the relevant services, snail farming can be included in the ADP.”

* Anyone interested in taking up the profession can call Intercollege on the number 70003200 for more information.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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