By Mike Dela Paz

Hot pepper is indispensable in cuisines all over the world for adding spice and elevating flavor. In the Philippines, it is mainly used in making different kinds of sawsawan, or dipping sauces.

Many Filipino farmers are now getting interested in growing this crop. Why not? There is a big potential to earn so much from hot pepper. Remember how its selling price soared to 1,000 pesos per kilo last year?

Cost and return analysis of growing Red Hot F1 Hot pepper based on 5-6 months growing period.

Let us examine the cost and return analysis for hot pepper based on East-West Seed’s data from their Research and Development facilities and actual experiences of farmers.

Out of the total production cost, 36% goes to labor cost. While many farms have started using machinery, most still rely on their laborers. Laborers are needed from the very beginning of operations – from field preparation up to harvesting.

Seed cost accounts for 6% of the total cost of production, a small percentage that contributes a lot to the success of this business. Remember, the cost and return analysis considered hybrid Red Hot F1 seeds. Do not forget, it all starts with high-quality seeds.

Other costs include plastic mulch, fertilizer, and other supplementary inputs with share of costs of 14%, 10%, and 34%, respectively. Take note that using mulching for hot pepper is very important especially during the rainy season. Fungicides, with 11% share of cost, is also very important in preventing the infestation of the so-called lapnos or anthracnose in hot pepper.

The price of hot pepper in the market is fluctuating and last year we saw it reach as high as P1,000 per kilo retail price. The price depends on various market forces like supply and demand.

The net income is really very enticing but we need to consider some factors in order to achieve such income.

1. Quality of seeds. The most preferred variety in the market is the Red Hot F1. It is a dual-purpose hot pepper – for fresh market (sawsawan) or for processing. This variety is harvestable around 60-75 days after transplanting.

A new hybrid variety is now available in the market. The name of the variety is Super Heat F1. Just like Red Hot F1, it is also high yielding and with almost the same pungency level. The main difference is that Super Heat F1 can be planted in the lowland; as well as in the upland growing areas, and other areas that are rainfed.

2. Proper site selection. Access to irrigation is very much needed. Even if Super Heat F1 can be planted in rain-fed areas, it still needs water.

3. Favorable weather. Hot pepper is easier to manage compared to other crops. But just like the others, continuous rain and very humid conditions can make the plants weak. That is why constant monitoring and prevention practices are very important.

4. Early preparation of all the needed inputs. Proper planning and implementation is really needed. All field activities like fertilizer application should be done at the right time, using the right amount.

5. Proper timing. Hot pepper can be grown year round. With this, a farmer needs to program his farming in such a way that he is not harvesting during the peak season.

6. Awareness of the market. Prior to harvesting or even during the growing period, go to the market, talk to retailers, and talk to traders in order to have a grasp of how you will market your produce, especially if you have tons of products to sell.

If you want to engage in hot pepper production, you may get advice from your co-farmers and you may also tap East-West Seed. We have comprehensive guides in hot pepper production and other crops at our GrowHow website, and our Plant Doctor Online can help you identify and manage different pests and diseases. If you need more assistance, the East-West Seed technician in your area is just one call away.

So what are you waiting for? Grab the chance to become a Red Hot millionaire!

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s November 2019 issue.