Agriculture World

Greatest Gift from King Bhumibol Adulyadej :for the Farmers of Thailand

Understanding the Royal Development Study Centres and its Significance in Thai Farmer’s Life

A farmer from Tha Mai District, Chanthaburi Province says, “I received the right guidance. This project gave me an idea and not money. I am not dependent anymore, I feel self-sufficient and earn well. My life has changed for better.”

Enhancing people’s well-being, coupled with family and community development, is considered the foundation of self-reliance and self-development. In over 70 years of physical and mental devotion since the beginning of his reign, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX, emphasised on ameliorating deprivation among the farmers, the majority of the population, and raising their quality of life by making them “self-sufficient and self-reliant.”

Thantitta Nakornthap, Director of Foreign Affairs Group, Division of Planning and Foreign Affairs, Office of the Royal Development Projects Board

 

His Majesty initiated six Royal Development Study Centres situated in different geological areas of Thailand, which act as source of knowledge which actively study, research and demonstrate Models of Success.

Miss Thantitta Nakornthap, Director of Foreign Affairs Group, Division of Planning and Foreign Affairs, Office of the Royal Development Projects Board says, “The role of these Royal Development Study Centres is to gather the related agencies working on studies, research and experiments to provide appropriate knowledge. The knowledge has to be cheap and easy for farmers to apply. These centres are continuously developing new techniques to improve the quality and quantity agricultural produces.”

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej once stated the roles of centers that, “.These study centers are like living natural museums that people can visit and gain understanding from…”

Stretching over 1,895 rai (303.2 hectares) the Khao Hin Sorn Royal Development Study Centre in Khao Hin Sorn Subdistrict, Phanom Sarakham District, Chachoengsao Province, is the oldest centre established on 8 August 1979. The main mission of this centre is to improve and rehabilitate natural resources. More specifically, it targets soil rehabilitation, reforestation, livestock development, establishment of cattle-buffalo banks, fishery promotion, fruits and flowering plants development, and cooperatives management, among others.

Due to the cycle of drought and flood caused the farming difficulties, especially for rice cultivation. The problems were analysed and assiduously studied by His Majesty the late King. As the result, His Majesty suggested the “New Theory Farming Practice” to farmers.Thai farmers are not very rich and have an average holding of about 15 rai (2.4 hectares). A model like such, ensures that the farmers have enough to eat and the excessive could be sold in the market maximising the use of available resources.
The New Theory is a sustainable farming method in which the agricultural land is divided in the ratio of 30:30:30:10, so as to derive the maximum output from the land, without sacrificing the quality of land or soil.

Demonstrating a irrigation cycle, Anuwat Pothinam, Director of the Khao Hin Sorn Royal Development Study Centre

Mr. Anuwat Pothinam, Director of the Khao Hin Sorn Royal Development Study Centre, Chachoengsao Province, explains, “The entire land of the farmer is divided in such a manner that the farmer is self-sufficient and can continue to grow eatables without being dependent on rains.”

According to the New Theory:

30% of the land is dedicated for the cultivation of rice, which is the staple crop, the other 30% is dedicated for the integrated farming including fruits and crops. The other 30% is reserved for water resource, and the remaining 10% is for residential areas, animal husbandry and other uses.

The first 30% which is used for paddy, is sufficient for farmer’s own family and the surplus can be sold in the market, same with the horticultural products which the farmer grows in the other 30%.

It has been realised that water has been a very important factor in augmenting the stress and distress of the Thai farmers and has been a major challenge. 30% of the area which is reserved for the conservation of water solves this dire problem. By calculations, it was found one rai (0.16 hectare) cultivationwould need water about 1,000 cubic metres. And 30% of the dedicated area would hold about 19,200cubic metres which would be sufficient for the Thai farmers for the whole year. In the same areafish raisingis also practiced and the farmer gets an additional source of income.

For the proper management of water and for the constant availability throughout the year, the ponds are further connected with the main reserviors which are connected to the ponds via water channels.

The remaining10%, is dedicated to the residential property, poultry farms, nursery and roads etc.

How the Royal Development Study Centres help the Farmers :

There are 43 villages with more than 12,000 households in the Chachoengsao Province. The Khao Hin Sorn Royal Development Study Centre faced several knotty problems in addition to the core issue of soil deterioration arising from soil erosion resulting from sandy nature of the soil. Other challenges included precipitous geographical conditions allowing the severity of soil erosion and lack of knowledge among farmers about soil and water conservation. There was also the issue of inappropriate cultivation methods. Farmers repetitively grew monocrops, such ascassava, as a result the soil became infertile. Such problems were compounded by insufficient water supply for cultivation and poor water retention by the soil, making the already existing water shortages even more acute.

 

Mr. Anuwat,  added that the objectives of the centre are to solve soil and water problems, to train farmers to adopt new technology and rehabilitate natural resources.

A visiting farmer from the province tells Agriculture World, “I came to learn about better ways of farming from this study centre. I follow the New Theory Farming Practice. I bring my paddy to the centre’s rice mill and process the produce here only. The centre has supported us to reap long term benefits by making us self-sufficient, independent and aware of the science of farming without letting us lose our traditional values.”
He further adds, “Previously I used to be a victim of water in both rainy season and in droughts. But now, I preserve the water and can be a farmer for most of the year.”

The six Royal Development Study Centres or “Living Natural Museums” as they are termed as, are located in the different geographical location covering the entire topography of the country.
1) Khao Hin Sorn Royal Development Study Centre
2) Pikun Thong Royal Development Study Centre
3) Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Study Centre
4) Puparn Royal Development Study Centre
5) Huai Hong Khrai Royal Development Study Centre
6) Huai Sai Royal Development Study Centre

Every Royal Development Study Centre is supported by various specialised departments which does detailed study and analysis to solve the problems of the region. The related government agencies are: Royal Irrigation Department, Royal Forest Department, Department of Fisheries, Department of Livestock Development, Land Development Department, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Extension and Provincial Administrative Organisation. Community Development Department, Department of Public Works, Cooperation Promotion Department, The Provincial Electricity Authority, Office of Accelerated Rural Development and Vocational Education Commission are few other sections which closely work with the Royal Development Study Centres, for the overall emancipation of the farmer’s life.

Ms. Thantitta explains that these centres also provideseveral services that can reduce farmers’ production cost as well as increase their additional incomes, for example, rice milling service, supplementary occupation trainingand souvenir shop as distribution channel. Moreover, to set up cooperatives, the cooperative can borrow a capital for startup.

Alongwith this, The centres’ community development activities involve occupational and handicraft promotion, creating recreation areas for villages, hosting training for various occupational groups, ranging youth camps, and organising savings groups to support self-funding.

These centres have becaome modelswhich needperseverance on continuous doing so that everyone could be benefited. His Majesty the late King’s tireless efforts and his subjects’ satisfaction with him and his works were very apparent in the lives of the Thai farmers.



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