As nutritious as snails are, in several parts of Nigeria it can be difficult to see where to purchase them. And the price may not be pocket friendly. This is partly because a lot of people do not engage in snail farming. Green Collar Farms, operating in Sango Ota, Ogun state is changing that.
At Green Collar Farms, snails are oven-dried and packaged for sale. Deliveries of the packaged snails are made to places around Nigeria. The packaged snail saves the buyers the time and strength that would have been otherwise spent on processing the snails. Good thing, the packaged snails are only preserved with salt and can last for over a month if stored in a cool place.
Green Collar Farms is a fast-growing snail farm. The CEO Omowunmi Opeyemi Ajadi had to quit her job at Eko Electricity Distribution Company to start the farm.
I got in touch with Mrs Ajadi, and she opened up on quitting her job to start Green Collar Farms; how the name Green Collar Farms came about; the challenges involved; how technology has helped her business and ended up with an advice for other budding entrepreneurs. Enjoy!
VUN: Talk about your self and how you started Green Collar Farms?
OOA: I am Omowunmi Opeyemi Ajadi. I am in my late 30s and married. I used to be a staff of EKEDC (EKO Electricity Distribution Company)
I worked for 11yrs before I resigned in December 2017. I decided to resign because of the stress of waking up as early as 3:30 am; leave the house as early as 4:00 am. Then, I go to work from Sango Ota, Ogun state to Victoria Island, Lagos. I returned back as late as 12midnight. The arrangement was not helping me and my family.
Therefore, I decided to start looking for another means from which I will earn. I did some buying and selling before I settled for the snail. I started Green Collar Farms because I was tired of the rat race job. I was tired of being an employee. I wanted to be my own boss.
VUN: How did the name Green Collar Farms come about?
OOA: The name Green Collar Farms came through the name white collar. I have been in the white collar job for 11 years and I know how it feels to be there. Also, the green collar came from the green white green colour of our flag. We were once in the green with our forefathers and we were shown the white collar, which made us neglect our green. Since the white collar is not helping us achieve our aim, we need to go back to the green. So as to achieve what we’re meant to achieve. That’s how white collar is changed to green collar.
VUN: You could have invested in any branch of agriculture. But, you chose snails, why?
OOA: I invested in the snail, catfish and little crops. But, I pay more attention to snails because snail farming is not time-consuming. Snails do not smell. Snails won’t disturb the neighbourhood. Snail farming is interesting. With little capital and little space, you can start snail farming in a small way. The experience of snail farming is just very intriguing.
VUN: What processes are involved in starting a snail farm like Green Collar Farms?
OOA: To start a snail farm, firstly, you need to go through training from a practising snail farmer. After which you can start with as little as 50 snails.
VUN: What challenges do you face running Green Collar Farms and how do you deal with them?
OOA: The challenges I have is the construction of a new pen. When you start expanding in snail farming, you need to always re-build a new pen for the new hatchlings. If you don’t have enough money it’s usually challenging; cos your baby snails will keep dying if there is no space for them. Also, as your farm becomes bigger, you alone can’t do all the work on the farm. You need employees. And if you can’t get them, it could become challenging to take care of the snails. If you don’t care for the snails, they will start dying. That’s the only challenge I have so far.
VUN: The agriculture sector is beginning to get so much attention in recent times. What do you think prompted this?
OOA: To me, the reason agriculture is gaining more attention is because we have decided to go back to our root. We neglected agriculture. We have all seen that it is the only way we can survive any hardship.
VUN: From your experience running Green Collar Farms, what do you wish you knew before you started?
OOA: I wish I knew more about the agro-business before I started Green Collar Farms. Because the agro-business really pays if you do it right.
VUN: You also package snails. How do you ensure that the snails don’t spoil before it gets to the potential customers? What’s the shelf life of the already processed snails that you package?
OOA: I process oven-dried snails and package them. I preserve my oven-dried snail with salt so that it stays fresh and last longer. The oven-dried snail can stay as long as 1month or more as long as it is stored in a cool place. It can also be stored in a fridge.
VUN: Technology is becoming a very important part of every industry and agriculture isn’t left out. In Nigeria for instance, Farmcrowdy is really pushing the boundaries. Then, you sell snails online. How has technology exactly influenced your business?
OOA: Technology is the no one thing that helped my business. Believe me, without technology I won’t even try resigning. The fear of who will buy will make me remain where I worked. The internet especially has really helped me meet a lot of reputable people. Without technology and the internet, you wouldn’t have known about Green Collar Farms.
VUN: Advice to other budding entrepreneurs.
OOA: My advice is we should always believe in ourselves. We shouldn’t allow fear of the unknown to stop us from getting to our dreams. We should always think big! Start small!! And scale fast !!!