Snake farming is a growing industry with more than 20,000 snakes being raised in 50 licensed snake farms in Kenya. Therefore, the main goal of setting up these farms is to attract tourists and also to collect snake venom for making anti-venom.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, there are 126 species of snakes in Kenya, with about 17 of them being venomous.
This presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to venture into snake farming, not only to meet the growing demand for anti-venom but also for the export market.
In the 2022 elections, Roots Party presidential candidate Prof. George Wajackoyah exposed a plan to start snake rearing in Kenya in his manifesto. This left many Kenyans wondering how this risky business could be profitable.
However, the importance of the snake farming business in Kenya cannot be overstated.
The snake farming industry is not only an important source of income for farmers but also a critical player in the conservation of snakes in the wild.
It is estimated that 90% of snake bites in Kenya occur in rural areas, where access to anti-venom is limited. Currently in Kenya, Snake antivenom costs around Ksh4,000 to Ksh 25,000 depending on the kind of snake and the number of vials needed for treatment.
Therefore, snake farming provides a sustainable solution to this problem by producing anti-venom that is easily accessible and affordable to those who need it.
Moreover, snake farming also plays a significant role in the economy of Kenya. This is because the export market for snake products, such as skins and meat, is rapidly growing, with many countries in Europe and Asia being major buyers.
This presents a unique opportunity for Kenyan farmers to tap into the global market and earn foreign exchange for the country.
Therefore, the snake farming business in Kenya is a lucrative and sustainable industry that is poised for growth.
Therefore, by venturing into this business, you not only contribute to the economy of Kenya but also play a crucial role in the conservation of snakes in the wild.
In this article, we will delve into the preparations for starting a successful snake farming business in Kenya.
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Preparations for Snake Farming Business in Kenya
Before starting this business, experts recommend that you have anti-venom for every species of snake you are raising. They also advise farmers to always be in gumboots while on snake farms to avoid intense incidences of snake bites. Because of its risky nature, snake rearing remains illegal in many countries
Before starting your snake farming business, there are several key preparations that you need to make. These include:
Research and identification of the most suitable species of snakes
- There are over 100 species of snakes in Kenya, but not all of them are suitable for farming.
- You need to research and identify the most profitable and in-demand species to farm.
- Some of the most popular species for snake farming in Kenya include cobras, puff adders, and green mambas, horned vipers, and the ball python.
Acquiring necessary permits and licenses
- Snake farming is regulated by the Kenyan government and requires a number of permits and licenses.
- You need to obtain a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service and a license from the county government.
- Failure to obtain these permits and licenses can result in hefty fines and even imprisonment.
Identifying the right location for the farm
- The location of your snake farm is crucial for the success of your business.
- You need to choose a location that is easily accessible, has an adequate water supply, and is free from potential threats like floods or wildfires.
- The farm should also have sufficient space to accommodate the number of snakes you intend to keep.
Construction of snake enclosures
- Your snake enclosures should be designed to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the snakes.
- The enclosures should be spacious enough to allow the snakes to move around freely and have access to sufficient sunlight and fresh air.
- The enclosures should also be secure enough to prevent snake escapes and protect the snakes from predators.
By taking these preparatory steps, you can lay a solid foundation for your snake farming business and ensure that you have everything in place to start farming snakes successfully.
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Management of Snake Farming Business
Managing a snake farming business in Kenya requires specialized knowledge and skills to ensure the health and well-being of your snakes. Here are some key aspects of snake management that you should consider:
a) Feeding and nutrition of snakes
Different species of snakes have varying dietary requirements. Some may require live prey, while others can thrive on pre-killed rodents or chicks. Most species will feed on mice, which is a complete and balanced diet for a snake. Some feed on rodents and birds, while others feed on insects.
It is important to ensure that your snakes receive a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. For example, feeding your snakes with rodents that are too small or too large can lead to malnutrition and health problems.
b) Disease prevention and control
As with any animal farming business, disease prevention and control is critical to the success of your snake farm. You should regularly inspect your snakes for signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or skin discoloration.
Additionally, you should implement measures such as quarantining new snakes before introducing them to the rest of the herd to prevent the spread of diseases.
c) Handling and transportation of snakes
Handling snakes can be dangerous and requires specialized skills and knowledge. You should always use the appropriate equipment and techniques to handle your snakes safely. When transporting your snakes, ensure that they are in secure containers and are not subjected to extreme temperatures or rough handling. For instance, snakes require a temperature of 24-29 degrees Celsius during the day and around 21-24 degrees Celsius during the night.
d) Record-keeping and monitoring of snake health
Keeping detailed records of your snake farm operations can help you monitor the health of your snakes and identify any potential problems early on. You should record information such as feeding schedules, vaccinations, and any signs of illness. Regular monitoring of snake health can help you identify any issues before they become more serious.
By effectively managing these key aspects of snake farming, you can help ensure the health and success of your snake farm business.
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Marketing of Snake Farming Business
As you establish your snake farming business in Kenya, you need to be strategic in your marketing efforts to ensure that you reach the right buyers and make a profit. Here are some strategies to help you successfully market your snake products:
Identification of potential buyers
You need to identify the market for your snake products. Your potential buyers can be pet stores, snake farms, researchers, and zoos, or write directly to pharmaceutical companies across the globe.
Also, reach out to restaurants serving snake meals, as well as fashion industries as Snake skin is used in making belts, jackets, shoes, etc.
You should also consider exporting your products to other countries where there is a high demand for snakes, such as the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Developing a marketing strategy
Once you have identified your potential buyers, you need to develop a marketing strategy to reach them. You can use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase your products and interact with your potential customers. You can also attend trade shows and exhibitions where you can showcase your products and meet potential buyers.
Pricing your snake products can be tricky because you need to balance making a profit and being competitive in the market. You can research the prices of similar products in the market and set a competitive price for your products. You can also offer discounts for bulk purchases to encourage buyers to purchase more products.
Branding and packaging of snake products
Your branding and packaging can make or break your business. You should create a brand that resonates with your customers and is easily recognizable. Your packaging should be attractive and provide all the necessary information about your products, such as the species of snake, weight, and feeding requirements.
According to a report by ResearchAndMarkets, the global snake breeding market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% from 2020 to 2025. This presents a huge opportunity for snake farmers in Kenya to tap into the growing market and make a profit.
By implementing these marketing strategies, you can successfully market your snake products in Kenya and beyond, and grow your snake farming business.
Makau Kioko, 58, is the proprietor of the Kioko Snake Ventures in Kitui. Many such farms make money primarily from charging tourists who want to learn about snakes or see them up close.
On a good day, Kioko’s enterprise, sitting on a five-acre farm, attracts approximately 300 visitors. Foreigners pay an entrance fee of Sh1,000 while locals pay Sh300.
Some like David Musyoka who rears over 200 snakes at his farm in Meru, export snakes to pet shops and zoos in Germany, the UK, the US, and other overseas countries where a standard snake fetches more than Sh10,000.
China, he says, is also an emerging market. For thousands of years, snakes have been considered medicinal in China, Japan, and other Asian countries, where people drink snake wine made from snake-based ingredients and swallow snake supplements for nutritional purposes.
Challenges and Solutions in Snake Farming Business
Starting and running a snake farming business in Kenya is not without its challenges. However, with proper planning and management, these challenges can be overcome. Here are some of the common challenges you may face and some strategies to address them:
1. Pests and Diseases
Snakes, like any other animal, are susceptible to diseases and pests. These can affect their health and productivity, leading to losses for your business. To prevent and control diseases, you need to implement a strict biosecurity protocol. This includes disinfecting equipment and enclosures, isolating new snakes for observation, and ensuring proper nutrition and hydration.
2. Snake Escapes
Snakes are notorious for their ability to escape even the most secure enclosures. This can be a big problem, as escaped snakes pose a danger to the public and can damage your reputation.
To prevent escapes, ensure that your enclosures are escape-proof and that your staff is trained in proper handling and care of snakes.
Also, you may have an emergency response plan in place in case of an escape.
3. Limited Market
The market for snake products in Kenya is still relatively small. This can make it challenging to find buyers for your products and may limit the growth potential of your business. To overcome this challenge, you need to be creative in your marketing strategies. Consider attending trade shows, networking with other snake farmers, and leveraging social media to reach a wider audience.
4. Financial Management
Like any other business, snake farming requires careful financial management. You need to keep track of your expenses and income to ensure that your business is profitable. To overcome this challenge, you may want to consider investing in accounting software or hiring an accountant to help you manage your finances.
While there are challenges in starting and running a snake farming business in Kenya, with the right strategies and management, you can overcome them.
By implementing proper biosecurity protocols, ensuring escape-proof enclosures, and being creative in your marketing strategies.
And managing your finances well, you can build a successful and profitable snake-farming business in Kenya.
Congratulations! You have now learned about the ins and outs of the snake farming business in Kenya.
As you can see, the snake farming business has become increasingly popular due to the high demand for snake products and the potential profitability of the industry.
In fact, Kenya is known for its high-quality snake products, such as snake venom, skin, and meat, which are highly sought after in both local and international markets. According to a report by the Kenya Wildlife Service, the snake skin industry alone generates over $1.5 million annually.
Moreover, the snake farming business provides employment opportunities for many Kenyans, especially in rural areas where job opportunities are limited.
A well-managed snake farm can create job opportunities for farmers, animal caretakers, and marketing and sales personnel, among others.
However, like any other business, the snake farming business has its own challenges, such as pests and diseases, a limited market, and possible snake escapes. But with proper preparation, management, and marketing, these challenges can be overcome, and the business can be profitable and sustainable.
In conclusion, the snake farming business has great potential for growth and profitability in Kenya.
With the right research, preparation, management, and marketing strategies, you can start and grow a successful snake farming business in Kenya. So go ahead and explore the exciting opportunities that the snake farming business has to offer.