Snails and slugs can lead to significant yield loss if left unchecked—Agriculture Ministry alerting farmers

* Snails and slugs are serious pests of crops more especially maize, beans, groundnuts and other vegetables

* Snails are coiled into a spiral and are enclosed in a shell while slugs have reduced or no shells

* However, a private firm in Lilongwe Environmental Industries buys snails to manufacture Gezina Snail Gel

* Which helps to remove pimples and other skin problems:

By Duncan Mlanjira

If left unchecked, snails and slugs can lead to significant yield loss — hence farmers need to take action when they see them in their fields.


This is an alert from Ministry of Agriculture to farmers, while advising them that if in doubt, they should contact their nearest extension personnel (Alangizi) for more advice.

“Snails and slugs are serious pests of crops more especially maize, beans, groundnuts and other vegetables,” said the alert statement. “Snails are coiled into a spiral and are enclosed in a shell while slugs have reduced or no shells.

“They have two pairs of tentacles on the head — a short lower pair and a large upper pair with round eyes situated at the tip. A single snail/slug has both male and female reproductive organs and after a single mating, it can produce batches of fertile eggs on the ground.

“Adult snails/slugs and their young ones are active at night and on cloudy, rainy days. They seek shaded sheltered resting locations with high humidity including soil.

“They damage plant seeds, seedlings, tubers, leaves and fruits leading to production losses. When feeding on leaves, they scrap and make big irregular holes and leave slime (silvery) trails and can also cut tender growing shoots.”

Once the snails and slugs are identified, the farmers are advised to:

* Collect and destroy young and adult snails and slugs when they hide under hedges and debris on regular basis;

* Put them in plastic bags or destroy them by dropping them in a bucket of soapy water, salty solution or boiled water;

* Remove all potential hiding places, habitats and shelters of snails/slugs from the fields, including plant debris, mulches, large wood chips, etc;

* Keep fields weed free. Crows, lizards, pigs and domesticated and wild birds prey on juvenile snails/slugs — so should be encouraged;

* Dust wood ash around plants to keep the pests away from the field;

* Sprinkle salt crystals in the paths or around the field;

* Put snails/slugs together and spread salt on them;

* Create temporary hiding places for snails/slugs by keeping plant debris as well as succulent plant parts in a pile in the crop field during the night, then collect and destroy the hidden snails/slugs inside the pile in the morning;

* Use poison baits (1 kg maize bran, 30g copper sulphate, 50g of molasses);

* In case of severe infestation, apply chemical pesticides such as chlorpyrifos 20% EC by mixing 2mls per litre of water or 32mls in 16 L of water sprayer. Chlorpyrifos kills by direct contact, ingestion and inhalation.


Meanwhile, Environmental Industries — a private firm registered with the Malawi Government in 1996 — buys snails to manufacture Gezina Snail Gel — which helps to remove pimples and other skin problems:

This piece of information is shared by Stacia Nordin of 
NeverEndingFood Permaculture, based at Chitedze in Lilongwe:

She entices the public to let nature do its work and make money from it, saying the organisation also farms and/or process them as food and further disclosed that some restaurants in Lilongwe sell snails in cans — adding that some Malawians who have tasted them liked them.

NeverEndingFood Permaculture uses the snails and slugs to feed their ducks, adding that they don’t get a lot because they have a healthy environment, but the few that are hand picked from their walls and trees, they toss to their ducks.

Those interested to be the first snail farm in Malawi, a guide is given through the link:

“Consider creation — all species have a purpose. Snails are not a pest. If there is a problem with snails, it is because of an imbalance in the environment.


“The earth needs healing from humans who are not caring for their soil, who are raising just one species in a large acreage and using lots of synthetic products (chemicals, seeds).

“There isn’t one solution, it’s diversity and balance that is the solution. You can use beer in shallow containers, salty water on the snails, and other treatments, but it is only treating the symptom, not the problem.  You’ll still have a problem that needs to be solved.

“We need to heal our soil by feeding and mulching it and having biodiverse flora-fungi-fauna. We had snail imbalance in our first year (25 years ago) but have resolved it with healthy design and practices.  

“We started with about 10 species on our land and had huge problems with insect and disease, but as we diversified foods, fodder, medicines, fuels, fencing, etc that we have now we have very few problems.  

“We interplant with species that attract the snails away from what we are raising. There are many different flowers and herbs that are used as borders or inter planted in rows or dotted through beds. 

“When we reached about 50 species, which requires healthy soil and water management and putting things in the right place, the problems were almost gone. We now have hundreds of species in our 1 hectare farm.