Barbados: Keith Laurie’s Perspective on the Giant African Snail

Barbados’ Nation News reports on agriculturalist Keith Laurie’s perspective on the Giant African Snail. As we mentioned in previous posts [US Authorities seek to stop invasion by giant snails and The Giant African Snail Adapts to Antigua] the giant African snail (Achatina fulica) is a tropical species native to East Africa. The snail has, in many cases, been deliberately introduced for food, medicinal use, or as an ornamental species and they are capable of surviving adverse conditions. However, this snail has been labeled as an agricultural pest for some time and it has been on the list of Caribbean Invasive Alien Species Network (CIASNET).

Keith Laurie, who lives in Salters, St George, in Barbados, feels that these snails do not pose the big agricultural or health threat that some specialists have suggested. In fact, he believes that they are beneficial: he recommends the snail in garlic sauce, which he carefully prepares, and thinks that farmers could feed the protein-rich snails to livestock and save on expensive soya beans.

Laurie also says that the African snail cannot be eradicated from Barbados because it has spread too far and bred too prolifically (each snail capable of producing hundreds of eggs annually). He complains that since 2000, when the snail was spotted around the island, scarce foreign exchange had been used to import poisons which had been applied by householders at rates way above the recommended level, causing concern about contamination of Barbados’ groundwater supplies.

He tells Nation News there has been a lot of misinformation regarding the snails to the point where the average Barbadian is terrified of them. Laurie says, “The GAS [giant African snail] has not attacked the 500 plants we were told would be decimated in Barbados. The damage to agriculture in Barbados has been minimal. Snails have not attacked the major crops grown on the island. And snails have certainly not attacked humans; most Bajans can outrun all five species of snails found here.”

He explains that he was involved in a project, which is still in its first stages, where snail meat was sent overseas to be tested for its protein level and that “The snail meat is very high in protein and its amino acid profile is of high quality that should be used to feed ducks, chickens, pigs, etc.” He also says that the ducks on his farm eat whatever snails they see. However, Laurie suggested “anyone desirous of consuming snail meat should purge the GAS on BA feed for three days to ensure they had no poisonous bait in their system.”

For full article and photo of Keith Laurie, see http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/dishing-up-a-snail-meal/

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