May 23 - Colombian snail farming pioneers turn obstacle into profit by building a snail export business. Tara Cleary reports.
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They're a curse for most gardeners.
But a snail invasion on this ornamental plant farm in Colombia gave its owners a new business idea - snail production for overseas culinary markets.
Easier said than done - the molluscs are sensitive to even slight changes in their diet or environment.
And snail farming isn't popular in Colombia says co-owner, Armando Rey.
SOUNDBITE: Armando Rey, co-owner, Carey Investment, saying (Spanish):
"We had to do all the research: how they're raised, how we improve stages, how we change them. It's a passion because one doesn't get a lot of information and we're doing it by experience and not by books, but by the experience that we're developing here."
Launched in 2005, the company now produces four tons of meat a month - that's about 200,000 snails.
Some of their biggest customers are in Europe where the economic recession has hurt the snail business.
But, they are still growing slowly, says co-owner, Mariela Forero.
SOUNDBITE: Mariela Forero, co-owner, Carey Investment, saying (Spanish):
"Our product has moved like a snail, slowly getting into position. People order more each time and it has been very satisfying for us to know that in Canada, France, Spain, Japan, China, people have tried them and they've given our product rave reviews."
So next time you order escargot, it might come from a farm in Colombia.
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