• Agriculture under the Royal Patronage of Thai Kings.

    Thailand’s highly celebrated prosperity as the ‘granary of the Suvannbhumi or the golden land in the middle of Southeast Asia is attributable to both its relatively fertile ‘land and waters’ and the genius of Thailand’s great monarchs from times immemorial until the present days who each in their turn have been painstakingly promoted agriculture and cultivation enhancing the livelihood of their populace – a series ofendeavours unrivalled nowhere else in the entire world.

    With the supreme genius and boundless grace of the Thai monarchs from the Sukhothai period down to the Bangkok period over a time span of over 700 years Thailand's agricultural sector has consistently undergone stages of progress. Thai farmers who have followed into footsteps of the kings's initiatives have enjoyed relative prosperity in this golden land. Their majesties' genius and grace have also laid the foundations for Thailand's sustainable security and wealth as a granary for the world population and as a kitchen for the world in the future.

  • Sukhothai Period

    During the Sukhothai period, agriculture constituted a major royal mission since it was the foundation of the kngdom’s economic affluence as evidently stated in the First Stone Inscription – Under King Ram Khamhaeng, this Sukhothai is fertile. There is fish in the waters, there is rice in the paddy fields ...’ It was also the beginning of further development in the field of irrigation with the then construction of ‘Sareadpong’ reservoirs in the form of earthen dams, or dykes to regulate water primarily for cultivation purposes.

  • Ayutthaya Period

    With the passage of time agriculture became the major ecoonomic factor during the Ayutthaya period. This can be clearly seen in the fact that King Borom Trailokanart of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya commanded the investiture of the Krom Na the Bureau of Paddy Fields which constituted one of the four columns of Thailand’s administrative entities of Jatusadom - composed of Wiang (the City) Wang (Bureau of the Lord Chamberlain) Klang (Bureau of the Exchequer) and Na (the Bureau of Paddy Fields). The Bureau of Paddy Fields was assigned with the tasks of overseeing administering and managing old Siam’s agricultural sector. Agriculture continuously constituted a major royal mission of the Thai Crown throughout the Ayutthaya period giving rise to economic prosperity for the kingdom as well as boosting up morale for the populace. Royal contributions took the forms of such ceremonies as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in the 6th month of the lunar calendar just before cultivation began the Piroonnasastra Ceremony or the Royal Rain-seeking Ceremony in the 10th month of the lunar calendar in years drought prevailed as well as the Royal Predictive Rice-burning Ceremony in the 3rd month of the lunar calendar after harvesting was over.

  • Early Rattanakosin Period

    During the Rattanakosin period, the administration of the Kingdom’s agriculture still consistently remained within the economic mandates of the Crown. Where tracts of wasteland were detected, or where it was found that any agricultural parcels were left unattended Their majesties would graciously command that their subjects be allowed to till the land to earn their living. This was clearly spelt out in the provisions of the Laws of the Three Seals as follows – "the parcels outside the capital city which lie within the realm of Ayutthaya (i.e. the Kingdom Thailland) ... shall not be left unattended to no avail, and the village headsmen, the district sheriffs, the sub-district officials, as well as the octroi officials shall arrange that those parcels be populated ..” This policy not only ensured the enhancement of the populace’s livelihood, but also enhanced the the collection of state revenue.

    With the changing times, and the advent of western technologies, Thailand was compelled to initiate further developments to be on the par with the outside world. This is particularly true immediately after the concluding of the Bowing Treaty with the United Kingdom in B.E. 2398 (1855), which was a major condition determining Thailand’s steps towards trade liberalization, culminaiting in a rapid growth of the Thai economy, and its increasing economic links to the world economy. Thailand’s imports and exports doubled in both value and volume terms. As such, Thailand’s agricultural sector had to undergo a transformation process - from the then self-reliance approach to a new concept of export-orientated production. In this process, rice has increasingly become the primary export item consistently, which has tremendously brought in foreign exchange to the kingdom.

  • King Rama 5

    During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) the Government stepped up efforts to promote agriculture sytematically in terms of both a relevant body of knowledge and technological advancement to the best of its ability in the light of colonial threats from the then Western powers. The king's initiatives to promote and develop the national's agricultural sector first took shape when his majesty commanded the upgrading of the Bureau of Paddy Fields (Krom Na) which was part of the Jatusadom administrative system then and was in charge of the management of farm affairs to the Ministry of Agricultural Commerce (Krasuang Kaset Panichayakan) during the public adminisntrattion reform in B.E. 2435 (1892). This was to be followed by a further modernization drive whereby the Ministry of Agricultural Commerce was transformed to the Ministry of Agricultural Administration (Krasuang Kasettratikan) in B.E. 2442 (1899).

    The Ministry of Agricultural Administration has henceforth become the pivotal agency in the administration and overseeing of agricultural affairs on his majesty's behalf ranging from the allocation of land for cultivation purposes (the issuance of land title deeds) the improvement of irrigation the improvement of cultivation practices the administration of agricultural studies and the acquisition of foreign experts in the capacity of advisors to the ministry.

    King Chulalongkorn was fully aware of the fact that rice was the main factor in securing wealth for the country.

    The emcouragement and and promotion of rice cultivation constituted the stepping stone toward prosperity and progress. Therefore in a bid to promote irrigation his majesty commanded the founding of Krom Klong (the Department of Canals) to be in charge of canal dredging expansion and digging on an even larger scale. This drive was to serve double purposes – i.e. to provide water supplies for cultivation purposes and to provide further means of transportation.In particular the provision of land for the populace to earn their living on their own counted tremendously.

    Moreover as his majesty also discerned the importance of the contribution of the private sector the Siam Canal and Farm Ditch Digging Company was then graciously awarded the concession allowing it to dig canals throughout the kingdom to open up new land space for cultivation purposes. This was a boon to Thailand's agricultural sector in the sense that the country's irrigation and cultivation were substantially modernized. As a result of this canal extension and expansion for cultivation purposes there was a total land area for cultivation purposes of more than 4 milion rai (approximately more than 640000 hectares) under his majesty's reign. Rice exports also increased by more than 100 % in one decade from 3530 harb (piculs) in B.E. 2418-2422 (1875-1879) to 7250 harb (piculs) in B.E. 2433-2437 (1890-1894).

    However as increases in production requires technogical acquisition and learning his majesty graciously commanded that the Ministry of Agricultural Administration organize a rice varieties competition for the first time which was specifically for the neighbourhoods of Tung Luang and Rangsit Cannals Tanyaburi District Patumthani Province in B.E. 2450 (1807).

    This competition was aimed at promoting the development of quality rice varieties to be used as seedlings. In the subsequent year a second rice varieties competition was held at Wat Sutas Tepvararam Temple in the Capital City. After that more rice varieties competitions were organized throughout the kingdom.

    His majesty's genius and visions in relation to Thailand's agricultural sector as reflected in his agricultural nurturing promotion and modernization were primarily put to good use through the strengthening of the country's political security and economic prosperity.

    All these royal contributions were clearly extended in the most gracious manner for the benefit of the populace.

  • King Rama 6

    During the reign of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), Thailand bacame a member of the world community in the true sense of the word in terms of political. The nation’s political and socio-economic developments were entwined with changes in the outside world, with direct mutual repercussions. His majesty’s major public policy was centered around national unity through the concept of nationalism by introducing universal an cosmopolitan practices to Thailand and the Thais as a whole in an attempt to bring Thailand on the same footing as the international community. One such public policy in the internationalization drive of thailand’s agricultural sector under King Vajiravudh was the emphasis on irrigation projects, both as a sheer continuation of the initiatives of his late father, King Chulalongkorn, and a furhter development through the re-establishment of Krom Klomng (the Department of Canals) under the new name of Krom Tod Nam (the Department of Water Regulation) under the supervision of the Ministry of Agricultural Administration. In this bid Sir Thomas Wark was commissioned as the expert advisor to the Department.

    Simultaneuously, the king also extended rice cultivation on a larger scale, by commanding that the Ministry of Agricultural Administration organize the 2nd Agricultural and Commercial Exposition held in April B.E. 2454 (1911), at Sra Patum Palace to publicize the quality of Thailand’s produce. The king also promoted the development of rice varieties through the founding of rice varieties experiment centre at Klong 6, Rangsit, Tanyaburi District in B.E. 2459 (1816) to serve as a rice cultivation station for the purposes of rice varieties improvement. The 1st World War whioch lasted between B.E. 2457-2461 (1914-1918) culminated in an economic depression across the world, wreaking havoc on the Thai economy. However, King Vajiravudh cautiously pursued a policy to alleviate the impacts of the crisis to the best of his ability by economizing on public expenditures in all respects, or the implementation of various

    public projects to encourage particupation from foreign trade partners in the country’s external trade. In particular, the king planned to stimulate the agricultural sector through the organizing of the National Museum Exposition with the purpose of "organizing an exposition on a larger scale than ever as there shall be competitions of various products – i.e. domestic and foreign products ranging from agricultural tools, and heavy and light industrial goods ...” Unfortunately, King Vajiravudh passed away before the implementation of this grand plan, putting an end to this exposition scheduled to be held at Lumpini Park.

  • King Rama 7

    The impacts of Great Depression resulting from the 1st World War continued well into the subsequent reign of King Prajatipok. His majesty was quick to adrress all the problems to the best of his ability through decreases in unnecessary public expenditure, a reduction in the number of civil servants and military staff, cuts in the budget allocated to the royal court, as well as the merging of certain ministries. Yet, his majesty continued to support the country’s agrivultural sector consistently. In particular, his majesty paid special attention to the problems faced by the farmers as evident in his decision over the petition lodged by farmers to request rebates in farm taxes in the aftermath of damage to farm production. Also, his majesty encourage the farmers to learn and apply modern agrcultural machinery in their farming. His initiatives relating to the establishment of a bank network provided a potential solution to many problems aggravating the beleaguered farmers, ranging from lack of capital, and profiteering practices by middlemen. His majesty’s initiatives culminated in the resolution of the State Council on 21 May, B.E. 2474 (1931) determining the establishment of local banks alongside with the extension of co-operatives. Closely related to this development was his majesty’s remaks " Co-operatives are a means to prevent any loss of farmers’ land into the hands of foreigners, or the wealthy who do not till the land.” His majesty was of the opiniont that the development of co-operatives would also lay the foundations for the building up of poitical awareness on the part of Thai people in the future.

  • King Rama 8

    After the Revolution on 24 June B.E. 2475 (1932) and the enactment of the 1st constitution as the supreme legal framework under the administration of a cabinet in the constitutional monarchy tradition, Thai monarchs continued to pursue their missions by overseeing the welfare of their populace, especially in the field of agriculture. When King Ananthamahidol (Rama VIII), the subsequent king, ascended the throne, one of the favourite royal missions during his return to the country was his visits to farming communities in Nontaburi, Patumtani, and Chachoengsao Provinces. Her Royal Highness Princess Galayani wrote in the book entitled the young kings "King Rama VIII once recounted that he went to Pra Pradaeng. One of the canals was running so shallow that he had to use a ferry boat. He had a good time talking to the farmers in the country ...” The last mission his majesty performed before passing away was casting seedlings onto the soil while visiting farmers at the Bangkane Central Agricutural Centre on 5 June, B.E. 2489 (1946).

  • King Rama 9

    Under the reign of King Bhumipol the present monarch all parts of the entire world were globalizing exerting profound influences on one another in political and socio-economic circles. His majesty has been pursuing innumerable missions painstakingly to ensure that the Thai poulation achieve a better livelihood and more importantly that they leave a happy life.

    His majesty has been travelling continuously to remote areas up and down the country with a result that his majesty has thoroughly learned of the plights and conditions of his subjects through close conversations leading to over 4000 royally initiated projects.

    In particular a total of more than 500 royal projects in the agricultural sector have resulted across the country and has cultimated in the founding of centres for the development studies of his majesty the king’s initiated projects which serves as the central point in agricultural studies inquiries experiments and research in its own right. The Khao Hinson Centre for the Development Studies of His Majesty the King’s Initiated Projects serves as a model centre for the state-of-the-art collection improvement and revival of natural resources and agricultural development. The Khung Kraben Harbour Centre for the Development Studies of His Majesty the King’s Initiated Projects serves primarily as a model centre for the inquiries and research into as well as the studies experiments and demonstration of the develpment and conservation of coastal environtments. The Pikulthong Centre for the Development Studies of His Majesty the King’s Initiated Projects was found for the studies of research into and develop the conditions of the bog soils for agricultural applications and the development of cottage industry. The Phu Phan Centre for the Development Studies of His Majesty the King’s Initiated Projects was found for the development of agricultural occupations suitable for regional conditions. The Huay Hongkrai for the Studies of His Majesty the King’s Initiated Projects serves primarily as a model centre for the studies and experiment of and research into the development of water sources and forests suitable for the conditions of the northern region. The Huay Sai Center for the Development Studies of His Majesty the King’s Initiated Projects functions primarily as a model centre for the studies of forest development.

  • The Genius of king Rama 9 on Agriculture

    His majesty the king in the capacities of a thinker, an inventor, and anexperimenter, have been striving to seek ways of and approaches to the resolution of problems beleaguing Thai farmers, ranging from soil problems by increasing fertility for sandy loam, and increasing moisture for hardsetting soil, and laterite soil, use of irrigation systems to reduce salinity for saline soil, and solving the problem of acid soil by affecting the soil compositions vicariously through a process modelled after the natural process, whereby soil acidity is gradually reduced resulting in higher levels of soil fertility.

    Simultaneously, his majesty graciously propagated theories aimed at preventing soil deterioration and erosion through vetiver grass cultivation. His majesty improved on Thailand’s local wisdom cherished by Thai villagers, and proposed the practice of growing vetiver grass crosswise on mountain slopes. This practice both prevents soil erosion, and maintain soil moisture levels. This royal initiative was a manifestation of his majesty’s compassion to secure long-lasting welfare for the entire farmers’ community.

    The king was fully aware that only with their own land title over cultivation land could Thai farmers ever have a decent and sustainable livelihood. Therefore, his majesty started working to ensure that the farmers can enjoy and exercise such a right and title, culminating in the land acquisition project at Hub Kapong, Khaoyai Sub-dsitrict, Cha-am District, Petchburi Province. In particular, his majesty’s overwhelming compassion was manifested in the purest form possible as his majesty graciously assigned the title of of land totalling over of 40,000 rai (9,400 hectars) formerly owned by the Bureau of the the Crown Property in 5 provinces to farmers to enable them to have their own farmland. Of utmost importance is the fact that his majesty has long realized that the sustanability of a decent livelihood of the farmers can only be achieved when they learn and are ready to stand on their own feet. This realization has led to the development of a developmental theory for self-reliance on the part of the farmers. This theory is based on the principles wherebty the farmers are encouraged to freely make their practical choices, primarily depend on themselves, uphold people’s participation, and cherish democratic practices, based on the solid foundation of a full understanding of regional geography, culture, customs, and traditions as a cornerstone for development. This is clearly spelt out in one of his majesty’s remaks as follows;

    "... Development must be based on the geographical typograpphy, and social, sociological typography. Sociological typography works in such a way that one may not force others to perceive the world one’s way. Only when we get in, and look for ourselves what they really want, and explain the relevant gist can we literally realize the true utility of development ...

    Such a royal weltanschauung led to the establishment of centres for the development studies of his majesty the king’s initiated projects as one-stop service centres, functioning simultaneously as efiicient public administrative agencies, and effective service units for the benefit of the public.

    Above all, in an attempt to ensure that his subjects enjoy a decent livelihood in a sustainable manner, his majesty graciously has expounded the new agriculture theory for the farmers to learn and fully appreciate the appropriate approach to sysytematic small-farm management to make the best of the agricultural resources.

    His majesty no only takes great interest in soils, but he also prioritizes water matters in his developmental agenda. His majesty is well aware of the importance of water as a mainstay of life, he promptly takes on the problem of water shortages in agricultural zones through the construction of water reservoirs which serve threefold purposes – i.e. the development of irrigation systems, as well as the resolution of droughts and flooding. Where cultivation areas are located at altitudes higher than those served by creeks, his majesty helps mitigate the problem of water shortages by the construction of weirs. One great solution to drought is the provision of artifical rain as graciously initiated by his majesty which is a boon to the farmers as a whole.

    At the same times, his majesty was also concenrd about his subjects’ quality of life, especially that of of Bangkokians, who face flooding and water pollution. This resulted in the water cachement project for the effective solution of of floods in Bangkok areas, as well as the invention of the aeration machine called the Chai Pattana Treadwheel to alleviate water pollution problem in Bangkok.

    His majesty the king graciously propounded the profound economic philosophy of self-sufficiency to the entire nation, which not only serves as a guiding reminder for people from all wallks of life in times of economic hardship, but is also the royal words of wisdom which will lead Thailand towards sustainable security. This philosophy also functions as an immunity system which holds the Thai people together, and which enables them to undauntedly pull themselves together in the face of any resulting problems in a time characterized by vulnerabilities and uncertainties.