Snails for the dining table? Kerala mulling options

Kochi, July 14 (IANS) A new delicacy on dining tables in Kerala could well be African snails, millions of which have invaded many areas of the state.

At a meeting called here last week to tackle the menace of African snails, a suggestion came from among leading scientists from several fields: Simply, why not eat them, just as they do in European countries?

Those who discussed various steps at the meeting included officials from the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, the Central Marine Fisheries Institute (CMFRI), and agriculture and entomology experts.

Speaking to IANS, S. Shinoj of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of the CMFRI said the meeting formed a team of experts to suggest how best to tackle the invading armies of African snails.

“Three ideas came up. First, the snails, which are a much liked food item of ducks, be made into feed for poultry and cattle. The second option was to use them for manure, as snail shells are rich in calcium, and the soil in Kerala is found to be calcium deficient. And the third option was to use the snails as a food item,” said Shinoj.

He said that snails are eaten in Italy, France and other European countries. “Earlier, shrimps were not consumed in Kerala till 1960s, and so were squids till the 1980s.”

“The study team will look into all aspects and I am now told that there are people who eat snails in Kottayam. We will seek their support as part of our study,” said Shinoj.

Former Member-Secretary of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board K.P. Laladhas said: “We are told that snails are consumed, but before it can be propagated here, a scientific validation will be good to win the confidence of the people.”

“Perhaps we can also look at export of snail meat. We are looking forward to the study report,” said Laladhas, a renowned zoologist.

People hoped the team’s study, research, report and implementation are not snail-paced.

–IANS

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