Life in the slow lane is just the ticket for Ireland's snail farmers
Ireland is ideally placed to fill some of the global shortage of snails which is estimated at 100,000 tonnes per annum
There is a snail shortage on the world market - 100,000 tonnes annually to be precise.
Given this statistic, the recent two day seminar on snail production, held in Athlone, was a timely reminder of the unusual opportunity for Ireland to supply snails to continental Europe.
But apart from increasing snail farming acreage, we also need to improve snail processing skills and facilities before we can exploit the potential markets in countries such as France, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Poland, Germany and Canada, where the humble 'escargot' is part of the regular diet.
Eva Milka (pictured), who describes herself as the "mother of Irish snail farming" says it is 'heartbreaking' to see the commercial opportunities of snail farming being ignored by Irish agriculture.
"We have the weather, we have the soil, the clear water and we are a farming country," Eva said. "So why not get the snail industry up and running?"
The Polish native, who emigrated to Ireland in 2006 with her partner, has been snail farming for the past two years on an acre of land near Garryhill in Co Carlow.
This year's crop came out at eight tonnes but she had to export all of it to Poland for processing.
The processor there added garlic and oils and many extra euros before selling the product on to our snail-eating fellow Europeans.