KHULNA: The snail (Samuk), an environment-friendly creature, is being exterminated from different marshy and agricultural lands in the southern zone of the country, including Khulna, Bagerhat and Satkhira districts.
Snails are harmless aquatic beings and can therefore be easily collected from the marshy lands where they are born naturally. Those eat up insects, leeches from paddy fields, keep water clean and safeguard the environment in many ways.
Sheikh Mahtab Uddin, one of the owners of the shrimp farms of Dumuria upazila said, “We use the snail flesh in our shrimp farms due to its availability and cheaper price.” “Moreover, the snail flesh helps shrimps grow faster,” Mahtab added.
With rising number of fish enclosures, the demand for snails—a natural fish feed—is phenomenally high. From every paddy fields and wetlands tonnes and tonnes of snails are extracted and bundled to the enclosures.
Local school teacher Firoza Khatun said, “Now-a-days snail collection has become a profitable business in the district as it is in high demand. Without investing money one can start the business as snail is seen abundantly in our water-bodies and marshy crop land.”
People from different age groups were seen collecting snails from water bodies, tanks, ponds, marshy land, paddy fields and ditches with a view to selling those in return for a good amount of money.
The low income people from Dumuria, Phultola, Terokhada, Batiaghata, Dacope upazilas of Khulna district, Tala, Assasuni, Debhata, Kaliganj upazilas of Satkhira and Fakirhat, Morelganj, Kochua, Rampal upazilas of Bagerhat district had been involved in catching snails for their livelihood.
Local trader purchased a sack of snails from the labourers at Tk 220 to Tk 230 and took away to shrimp farms and sold it at Tk 300 to Tk 320. The catching, however, reaches its peak during August to November when the snails are available in plenty and the business runs in full swing then, said the local people.
The traders go round the remotest villages in the districts by their engine-driven boats or trolley to buy snails. After a day’s collection, the snails are sent to their destinations either by trawlers or by trucks.
Professor Dr Dilip Kumar Dutta of Environmental Science Faculty of Khulna University said, “The snail controls water pollution. The shells of snail contain calcium carbonate which controls the acidity of land.”
“The rampant destruction of snails will turn the cropland acidic and leave a bad impact on the entire flora and fauna and the ecosystem,” Dr Dilip Dutta added.
Deputy Director (DD) of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Khulna Md Hafizur Rahman said, “Snail plays an important role in increasing the fertility of the soil of cropland and thereby contributing to the agricultural production significantly in the country. Moreover, snail is a natural feed to birds and other aquatic animals. Its destruction means eliminating a vital component from the ecosystem.”
DD Hafiz also stressed the need for formulation of a policy in this regard to ban collection of the species on a large scale from swamps and quagmires in the country.