If you ask Jess Domingo what is the most profitable crop he has grown in his farming life, he will tell you that it is the red hot chilli. Last year, he made a net profit of P70,000 from 700 square meters. Yes, net profit. All expenses had been deducted. That’s P100 per square meter in a culture period of nine months. In one hectare, that translates into P1 million profit.
Jess Domingo is very meticulous in his computations. After all he was a topnotch chief financial officer of multinational companies (Pepsi, San Miguel and Nestle) before he retired at 50 to pursue his two passions – culinary and organic farming. He owns Rancho Domingo in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao.
Jess first became famous among agribusiness enthusiasts when he proved that he can make a net profit of more than P5,000 per head of fattened hog by using his own formulation of fermented feeds. Now, he is into integrated farming, raising pigs, fowls, vegetables and of course grass-fed cattle.
He has tried planting the so-called “pinakbet” vegetables like tomatoes, ampalaya, eggplant, okra, sitao and others. Well, sometimes these crops are profitable, but there are times when the prices are so low because there is an oversupply of the same. The problem with the surplus pinakbet vegetables is that most farmers don’t know how to process them into products with added value.
What he loves about hot chilli is that the price has always been high. The lowest that he is getting now is P50 to P60 per kilo. But last December when most of the crops in other places were damaged by Typhoon Lando, he was able to sell his fresh chilli fruits at P1,000 per kilo.
One other good thing about hot chilli is that the fruits can be processed into products of higher value when the price of fresh fruits goes down. And that is what he has been doing when the price gets down to P50 a kilo. He hastens to add, however, that the P50 price per kilo is still profitable.
Because of his culinary expertise, Jess knows how to process chilli into flakes in oil. He currently produces chilli flakes in plain oil and another with rosemary flavor. He adds that flakes in oil can be stored for three years without any deterioration. After that, the product disintegrates into hot sauce, which is still a high-value product.
He says that one kilo of fresh hot chilli fruits can be made into flakes in oil with a value of P400. He currently sells his processed hot chilli to a major food company with nationwide outlets. The bigger bottle, 250 ml, sells for P100 while the rosemary-flavored flakes in smaller bottles sell for P70 each.
The flakes can be used in several ways. It is an ingredient in hot dishes (chilli crab, for instance), sauce for siomai and other Chinese foods. It can be added to soy sauce or bagoong with calamansi for dipping grilled meats or fish. What Jess also does is to mix half a teaspoon of the oil in his coffee. He claims it makes the body system warm to start the day