Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has been awarded a whopping Sh 127 million to facilitate production of medicine from snails bred in the institution.
This money will be used to produce a cough syrup suitable for children under the age of 5. It is one of the projects the university is running to add value to the locally conducted breeding activities.
According to Dr Paul Kinoti, the project's lead researcher, the snail breeding value chain has focused previously on coming up with products like edible snail meat, skincare products, organic fertilisers and animal feeds.
"Persistent dry cough in children under the age of five is considered a matter of significant concern. The airways of young children are relatively smaller and less mature, making them more susceptible to infections and airway obstruction," Dr Kinoti said.
"Persistent coughing can exacerbate existing respiratory infections, leading to conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and other illnesses which can be life-threatening."
The cough syrup generated from the snail slime will be used to counter the already existing drugs that pose life-threatening risks to children.
To ensure enough supply of the snails, the institution intends to support farmers. "This will also create a sustainable supply of the highly sought-after snail in the African and European market. Kenya's climate is one of the best for snail breeding, and is also the natural habitat of the giant African land snail," he added.