Rice and the Royal Family
  Thailand is an agricultural country. This green nation has prioritised in agricultural activities, especially “Rice Growing” which has been the very foundation of the country in all the times past. The King, in his capacity as the Patron Monarch of Agriculturists, is to be carrying the vital duty to boost the common esprit of agriculturists. This is clearly seen in the “Royal Ploughing Ceremony”, a cherished sacred rite to heighten the morale of all rice farmers.
  The Royal Ploughing Ceremony has been held since ancient times and has been part of the culture common to ethnic Tai tribes living in Thailand and its surrounding areas when the rainy season begins in the sixth lunar month (May) every year. According to social beliefs, Mother Nature provides fertile land with plenty of water and suitable weather conditions. With the proper plant varieties and the blessing, the people can be happy and contented.
  After a hiatus of more than two decades, the full-fledged Royal Ploughing Ceremony was revived in 1960 when His Majesty the King graciously restructured and improved the ancient ceremony so that it was suitable for the modern society. His Majesty presides over the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony on a regular basis and appoints the Ploughing Lord (Phraya Raekna) to carry out the rites of inaugurating the plough and sow the ritualistic first seeds on Sanam Luang ceremonial ground in his lieu. The sacred rice is carried in gold and silver baskets which are carried by consecrated ladies to let the Ploughing Lord to sow the grain seeds onto the ceremonial field and the two sacred oxen pull the plough to cover the grains with earth and thus let it wait for the time when the rains will bring those grains to life. When the ploughing is finished the oxen are presented with forecast instruments, several foods and drinks to predict whether the year will be plentiful.
  The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is considered the most auspicious for the country’s rice farmers as the crowds are usually seen scramble for the sacred seeds sown by the Ploughing Lord after the ceremony ends. The seeds are believed to bring the farm owners wealth and good luck. They return from the ceremonial field with their faces aglow before travelling back to their homes to begin their own rice-growing activities.
The king’s paddy fields
  His Majesty began experimenting rice planting at all stages of the production cycle in his own home, or what all Thais know as Chitralada Palace, from tilling and improving the soil, composting organic fertiliser, planting all sorts of rice varieties, building ancient models of barns and silos with buffalo dung mixed with earth sprayed on bamboo racks, up to a small rice mill. It also includes the use of paddy husks processed into charcoal briquettes for added value. The accrued knowledge was harvested and has been used to generate further projects related to rice and the development of farming as a profession, including research on many other crops.
The King’s Task in Soil Improvement
  Besides dedicating body and brain to the development of farming as a profession, His Majesty was involved in other projects linked to rice farming such as the Royal Rain Project, which started in 1969 with research and experiment to modify weather conditions in order to bring about rain and inventing a method that works well given the country’s topography and climate, as well as conception of a project of reservoirs and irrigation canals to supply water to agricultural areas. Soil management concepts were another important area he studied to know the problems of soil degradation, soil salinity, soil nutrient deficiency, using grass species to help fix the soil at low cost, etc. All countries around the world are able to adapt this model to solve their own soil problems.
  This is the reason why the International Erosion Control Association (IECA) gave him the International Merit Awards for his role as one of the world’s greatest soil and water conservationists; and why the International Union of Soil Science gave him the Humanitarian Soil Scientist Award to honour his conservation work over the years, and made December 5th, which coincides with his birthday, the World Soil Day.
Sufficiency Economy
as the real salvation for farmers
  As the world vigorously was sprinting towards capitalism and industries were encroaching upong the elds of agricultural society, sending farming people into a pool of debt and hardship, His Majesty came up with his philosophy for sufficiency economy as an alternative way of life of the Thai people to stand up and move forward confidently in a sustained fashion, with enough to live on, being self-reliant and ready to face changes in the world.
  He also spoke of putting into practice the “New Agricultural Theory”, that is, digging fish ponds, raising sh, planting rice, planting garden vegetables, planting fruit trees around the house-a model based on ancient wisdom of Thai ancestors but within administrative guidelines. What is important is that this new agricultural theory will not only provide a solution to the agrarian problem in Thailand but can also be a solution for farmers all over the world to make them self-reliant as well as to bring natural balance back to the world environment.
  These are some of the stories that tie the king and farmers in Thailand in a bond that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. That’s because His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family have realised too well that farmers are the backbone of the nation, that they work hard to produce the country’s staple foods and cannot be left alone in dire conditions.