Cultivation of Saltwater Snails: An inspiring project in Yucatan, Mexico

This time in one of our primary visits in Mexico, we had the opportunity to meet this small indegenous community located in the coastal port of Yucatan, Mexico.

They kindly gave us a tour of their homes and workplace. Their economy is based mainly on the raising and selling of “chivitas” or saltwater snails.

Thirteen women and a couple of their children actively work in the community, located in the coastal port of Yucatan, Mexico.

How did it all start?

They were founded one day when Doña Mani was walking one day and saw how abundant the chivitas or snails were, she realized that they could be eaten and told her mother about her idea and from her she passed it on to the community, from there they starting their business with the little delicacy.

What have they done?

They cleaned the beach and the nearby lagoon of all the garbage thrown and dragged by the sea to make a better functioning ecosystem and continue to maintain it to this day.

After asking for a year’s permission for the controlled breeding of these in the nearby lagoon, they realized that they would have enough to supply the community, and certainly, considering that each capsule or egg they laid could produce up to 30 snails. 

Giving back; the ultimate expression of abundance

This humble community stands behind abundance and giving back.  After a year of breeding, the government who gave this land to them to breed asked the community what they wanted to do with the snail breeding farms, the decision was to distribute it to the rest of the communities in the beach area so that they would also have a trade opportunity.

What does the process look like?

This is not an easy job, these women start their work day at 4 am, accompanied by nets on medium-sized rods to hunt the snails in the swamp, a task often done barefoot, which sometimes hurts their feet beyond the general fatigue, as they can travel up to 2 kilometers a day in their search. 

After hunting for them, they are cleaned with abundant water, kept soaking for a night or even a whole day, then washed again with water to be boiled alive.

Finally, these snails are extracted by hand, taking out their small guts, which they utilize to make handcrafts with.

The rest without the shell is weighed to be sent to nearby restaurants.

Where do they need help?

We all need help and this community is no exception. 

They humbly shared with us some of their needs, some simple ones such as shoes so as not to hurt themselves when collecting snails, which is more than understandable, and new boats since theirs have been very damaged for a long time, they told us that they had already asked for help without much response, and that it is something that the community does not see possible to sustain since they have an approximate value of 15 thousand pesos (about $700 usd) but this would accelerate the work flow and the cultivation for these small animals.

The purpose of our visit

By learning more about their way of life and production process we were able to give recommendations for the improvement of their market distribution and price range, as well as we will help them ship their order for new equipment for better production. With some luck and help from our experts, this community will be able to have greater social visibility, market exposure and possible funding for their much needed equipment.

To learn more on how you can give back click on this link so we keep helping indigenous communities grow their businesses and knowledge visit our donation page for more info.

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