His Majesty the King’s Interest in Rice Cultivation and Farmers’ Way of Life (12/05/2008)
As king of a predominantly agricultural country, His Majesty the King realized that knowledge of agriculture would be of great use. He has made every effort to help develop Thailand’s agriculture, especially rice cultivation, as is evident in many royally initiated projects.

In 1961, His Majesty requested the Department of Agriculture to establish a demonstration rice field within Chitralada Villa grounds for experimenting with the cultivation of different varieties of rice. The project is part of the Royal Chitralada Project to find out the best methods that would benefit Thai farmers. His Majesty was personally involved in overseeing the various stages of rice farming there. From 1962 onwards, the seeds that are scattered on Sanam Luang during the Royal Ploughing Ceremony have been those developed at the Chitralada experimental rice field.

During his visits to people in all corners of the country, His Majesty usually asked farmers how much their rice yield was. He was also often heard giving advice to local people to retain the ownership of their farmland for their family to rely on in the future.

His Majesty’s interest in rice farming and farmers’ way of life dates back to the period before he assumed his kingship. At that time, His Majesty, as Prince Bhumibol Adulyadej, accompanied his brother, King Ananda Mahidol, to make the first visit to farmers at Wat Phra Si Maha That in Bang Khen District, Bangkok. He was very impressed with this experience and realized that farming is the foundation for building the nation. Since the majority of his subjects are farmers, he intends to sustain this occupation for the stability of the Kingdom.

In his address given to villagers in the southern border province of Narathiwat in 1993, His Majesty urged them to continue to grow rice, saying that in the next 20 years, the Thai population might reach 80 million. If rice cultivation were to decline, there would not be enough rice for domestic consumption. Thailand might have to import rice, and certainly Thai people would not accept such a situation.

His Majesty’s major concern is to enable farmers to be self-reliant, especially in terms of their food supply, including rice, vegetable, and fruit. In his New Theory agriculture, His Majesty suggested farmers that about 30 percent of the land be used for cultivating rice in the rainy season, ensuring that the household would have enough rice for one year. This degree of self-sufficiency allows the household to reduce expense.

Over 50 percent of Thai farmland is devoted to rice which is the staple food of the Thai people. Thailand is not only one of the largest rice bowls of the region, but also of the world.

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