By Zac B. Sarian

One young executive’s idea of farming as a sideline impressed us when we met him at the Agi-Kapihan in February 1993. He was into producing salted duck eggs and raising hito. His main strategy was to stay small and manageable, but always maintaining the high quality of whatever he produced, first and foremost.

The fellow is Efren Sotto, who was at the time of our interview the communications manager of Pilipinas Shell’s Corporate Affairs Department. He finished a Foreign Service course at the University of the Philippines but was very much interested in farming, raising ducks and hito on his farm in Laguna.

A basket of salted eggs.

Unlike other ambitious raisers, Efren just maintained a flock of ducks numbering 500 which gave him an average of 260 eggs a day. That already gave him a fairly good return because he added substantial value by making salted eggs that commanded a premium price of P4 apiece. At that time, that was considered a high price as most other salted egg makers sold
theirs at P3.20 each.

His salted duck eggs were not colored red but they carried a seal  of guarantee. If for one reason or another the buyer thinks the
egg s/he bought was below standard, s/he could return the seal and it would be replaced. But Efren hastened to add that did not happen because he really saw to it that the salted eggs’ quality was always maintained. The yolk of his salted egg was oily and did not have any undesirable smell. How did he maintain the high quality?

Well, he only salted the eggs that he produced in his farm. That way, he was really sure that the eggs were fresh. Some of the other salted egg makers, he observed, used infertile eggs that were discarded by balut makers after candling. Those were at least 10 days old and they didn’t make quality salted eggs. He also saw to it that the clay that he used for aging his salted eggs was not re-used to avoid contamination.

Efren did not have any problem selling his eggs. One Shell gas station on his way to the office got a lot of his salted eggs. Co-employees and those of nearby offices also accounted for much of his daily sales. He only had his driver to help him in the delivery.

His Hito Project

As with his duck project, Efren started small but he made sure that his produce sold at a higher price than those of his counterparts in the industry. He raised only 1,000 hito in his pond compared to the tens or hundreds of thousands of the other raisers.

A small hito project, he said, is very manageable. He had studied the market and sold only the size that commanded a higher price of P20 per kilo than the next hito producer.

To save on feeds, he took the trouble of going to the Navotas fishport after midnight to buy trash fish for feeding his catfish. Trash fish in Navotas then could be had for just a small fraction of what the ordinary market vendors in other markets would charge.

Sometimes, he would also sell part of the trash fish he bought to other catfish raisers for a small profit. That also further cut the cost of feeding his own fish.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2018 issue.