Unknown to most, the former Prime Minister’s daughter is a fully-fledged snail rancher, having earned the permit issued by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), allowing one to practice this rare form of farming as far back as 2007.
A farmer has to obtain a license from KWS because the creatures are categorised as wild.
“I started this project as a hobby in 2007. Before I started, I had gone to Nigeria where I had the privilege of visiting former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo. He is one of the biggest snail farmers there. He is the one who challenged me to think about farming. He was so convincing with the snail farming, I promised to do something when I came back home,” she once stated while speaking to The Standard.
After initially losing almost all her snails due to heat, she teamed up with a snail expert from the University of Nairobi only identified as Musombi (now deceased), who helped her set up a greenhouse in her 25-acre farm in Kiserian.
“I learned everything from the types of snails to their behaviours, ideal environment, feeding, breeding, market potential plus more. He (Musombi) saw my passion and volunteered to act as my mentor.” she once disclosed.
Starting with just 2 snails, her farm now accommodates snails in the tens of thousands.
She has become one of the major suppliers of snails to high-end hotels and upmarket restaurants, with a kilo ranging from Ksh 2,000 to Ksh 2,500.
Her farm Shelltops Ltd, packs the slimy creatures in 160gram bags (contains 24 pieces), before sending them out to the various customers.
“The orders from high-end hotels became so overwhelming, I could not meet it. Because of the pressure, I decided to just focus on individual clients who comprise expatriates and Kenyans of foreign origin. But I also supply to a few upmarket restaurants,” Rosemary disclosed to The Standard.
Snails are a common delicacy among communities in West Africa and the farmer has found a niche market among Nigerians, Ghanaians, and Asians in the country.
They are loved for their white meat which is rich in proteins and tastes like gizzards. It is easy to prepare. One needs to boil it for five minutes to get rid of the mucus. Once boiled, one can then fry it with tomatoes and onions, just like they would any other type of meat.
Rosemary also disclosed that Obasanjo, who doubles as her mentor, always makes a point of visiting her farm whenever he is in the country.
The entrepreneur who was eyeing the Kibra parliamentary seat on August 8, 2017, General Election, had to shelve her political ambitions to seek treatment for two aneurysms, brain tumour and stroke, which left her partially blind.
However, back in February 2019, Dr. Oburu Odinga, the family’s spokesperson, went on to reveal that Rosemary was well on her to full recovery.