Dai looks mighty pleased as he holds aloft some of his precious snakes so I can
get a closer glimpse. "Precious" yes. Snakes, scorpions and spiders from his
farms take him smiling all the way to the bank. Kevin Dai is dangerously rich!
of Benjamin Agriculture Biotechnology Ltd, Kevin Dai has 3 big snake farms at
different locations in China. In an interesting chat with Medindia's reporter,
he shared how snake farming is lucrative business - locally he sells snake meat
for food, snake skin to make traditional Chinese musical instruments and other
snake products for use in Chinese
. His company exports 'snake
dry powder' 'scorpion venom dry powder' and 'spider venom dry
powder' to countries like Korea, Australia and the US.
Snake farming is big business
in China now, with an increasing global demand for snake meat and snake
products that are widely used in traditional medicine and for research purposes
to cure diseases. Successful snake breeding techniques researched and perfected
by small time farmers have contributed to a booming industry in China earning
millions of dollars for people who live dangerously, work hard at breeding
innumerable varieties of snakes, scorpions and spiders that yield some most
Thilaka Ravi: How did you get interested in this
dangerous business of snake farming?
When I was a child I've
seen my neighbor capture and breed snakes. At that time, I was curious about
wild animals and didn't know that snakes could be dangerous. It was fascinating
to see him working with snakes. Also, I learnt at my very young age that my
neighbor was making good money by selling the snakes to support his family.
That made a big impact and when I grew up I decided that I would pursue my
interest in snakes and make it my business venture. Now I have farms in
Zhejiang Province, Jiangxi province and Guangxi province. However my
corporate sales office is at Xintian Road 318 Xintian village Fuyongtown,
Shenzhen City at Guandong province.
I have followed meticulous methods from research
on breeding snakes, I know how to select good female snakes and how to incubate
eggs to improve survival rates. I give them a good diet of chicken, fish and
Thilaka Ravi: What kind of training did you take to handle these snakes?
Of course, it does need
a lot training to breed snakes in a farm. First of all, we have to overcome the
fear of snakes. To get used to snakes, we first catch a snake in the bag/cage,
and then we cautiously touch it with our hands so that we don't worry we will
be bitten by a snake. As time goes by and with constant practice we are not so
afraid of snakes.
Secondly, we take certain precaution. Before we go close to snakes, every staff
member has to wash hands first, especially if the hands just touched any meat.
If not, the snake will sense the smell of meat and bite you as food, by
mistake. We insist that staff wear special gloves to prevent snakebites
Thilaka Ravi: Snake farming is big business in China. How do you market your
products? To which countries do you export your products?
I want to say it is not
difficult to sell snake products. It is a seller's market. We use the Internet
to contact buyers and so we can sell our products all over the world. We also
sell scorpion venom to many overseas customers. Scorpions in our farm yield
50-100 gms of venom every day.
So far, our snake products have been exported to many places. We sell snake
venom powder to the United States, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Snake venom
powder is used in the manufacture of anti-venom
serum, health products and beauty products. Last month, some Australian buyers
approached us and wanted to buy sea snake venom powder, but we don't deal with
aquaculture of sea snakes.
Thilaka Ravi: Do you have a doctor in the farm to handle emergencies? Or do
you go to a hospital nearby? Do your workers get bitten when extracting venom?
How do you deal with this?
A farm owner is the best
doctor because he has bred snakes for more than 30 years at least and he can
deal with emergency treatment, including snakebites. When we are bitten by a
snake we know the emergency treatment-we need to flush the wound using tap
water and take medicine. If a deadly snake bites we rush to the hospital for an
injection of anti-venom medicine.
Thilaka Ravi: Which venom is your
highest selling product? Why?
(Chinese moccasin/sharp nosed viper) venom dry powder and cobra venom dry
powder are our highest selling products. The two kinds of snakes can secrete
more snake venom than others. The venom is said to cure tumor, cancer, dissolve
thrombus, and is used in the treatment of hemorrhage among other ailments.
Thilaka Ravi: Do you sell snakes for food too? What varieties?
Yes, we sell snakes
like cobra and Ptyas mucosus (Oriental ratsnake) for food, mostly in local
restaurants and sometimes abroad too. Snake soup is a delicacy and snake wine
is in demand for its medicinal properties. Apart from using snake products in
food, research and traditional Chinese medical/health products and beauty
products, we make musical instruments, bags and hats and belts from snake skin.
As we say goodbye, Kevin Dai gently makes his
way through the multitude of snakes in vats, bins and cages. He is so used to
his snakes that he says he can spot the poisonous ones with ease. But all those
twisting, slithering, snakes coiled together in bunches and glistening in the
bright afternoon sun looked all the same to me-frightening!
A snake is revered as a "little dragon" in
China-a country with a strong snake culture where every part of the snake is
precious. Though there is no scientific proof about the health benefits of
snake food supplements, many Chinese believe drinking snake wine can cure an
inflammatory disease, ankylosing
and other health issues.
So, if you're game, there's
a snake pill for your troubled immune system and a cobra powder that is more
potent than Viagra to boost libido!