The Potential of Snakes as an Economic Venture

Snake venom being milked from the snake/Picture Courtesy

Snake bites are a silent public health problem in Kenya with 5.4 million cases reported annually. Eastern, Northern and Coastal regions are some of the areas that are heavily plagued by this infestation.

The Black Mamba, Green Mamba, Puff Adder and Boomslang are some of the venomous snakes found in Kenya.

Owing to the high cases of snake bites, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, College of Health Science, undertook research on Snake Venom and Anti-venom (SVA) and Business Opportunities.

Prof. Joseph Gikunju, an Associate Professor, Department of Medical Lab Sciences spearheaded the research and presented his findings during a webinar organized by the Directorate of Research and Innovation, July 21, 2022.

“There are many types of venoms, snake venom, bee venom, scorpion venom and spider venom. I hope to focus on snake venom and anti-venom and explore its potential in drug development and look at the business opportunities available” Prof Gikunju declared.

Snake venom is touted to be the next lucrative venture, as the topic has lately gained traction in political campaigns. Prof. Gikunju confirmed this by saying, the market was ripe for snakes and their products.

According to him, countries like China, Burma and US are using snakes as a source of food and utilize their skins to produce shoes and bags.

On the potential of snakes in drug development, Prof. Gikunju attests that snake venom is a versatile product with the capability of making anti-venoms, skin products, high blood pressure drugs, painkillers and oils for gout and arthritis among other lifesaving drugs.

“To effectively treat the high cases of snake bites in the country, anti-venoms from snakes has proven to be effective. We can also use the venom to produce massage oil that helps in case of gout and arthritis,” said Prof. Gikunju.

In his presentation, Prof. Gikunju acknowledged the challenges faced in snake venom research such as inadequately trained personnel, limited networking among institutions working on SVA research and insufficient funding. He, however, believes that proper research and development must be done before venturing into the market.

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