For over 50 years of his reign, His Majesty King Bhumibol has always kept his promise to Thai People - the promise that he would reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people.  From the year 1950 until present he has done so much for the betterment of the country and the people.  As of 1998, there were 2,159 royal development projects initiated by His Majesty and implemented throughout the country.  Most of the projects are aimed at improving the living conditions of his subjects, particularly those in the remote rural areas.

 Royal development projects have originated from His Majesty's extensive travel throughout the country.  Those royal visits, both official and private, to all regions of the Kingdom have made the Royal Family deeply aware of the people's problems and conditions. 

Today, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and members of his family spend almost eight months out of the year in one or another of the royal residences which have been built outside of Bangkok.  They are located in Chiang Mai in the North, Sakon Nakhon in the Northeast, Prachuap Khiri Khan in the Mid-South and Narathiwat in the Far South. 

His Majesty has become not only the most traveled monarch in Thai history but also the best informed about a wide range of rural difficulties. His Majesty learns first-hand, from the people themselves, of the local conditions and problems. After having put them at their ease, he converses with the local inhabitants and learns from them the problems with which they are faced as they themselves perceived the situation.  After consulting further with the officials concerned, His Majesty makes his own conclusions about the problems, including the causes and the possible methods to redress them.  Upon his return to Bangkok, or sometimes even on the spot, he will share what he has learned with the members of the Government, requesting them to assist and give support to the people wherever feasible.  Sometimes he has used his own funds in the early stages to help a project get off the ground. In 1988, he established the Chaipattana Foundation to fund and help in accelerating rural development projects that are beneficial to the people and the country as a whole. More information on Chaipattana Foundation and its projects can be found at http:// www.chaipat.or.th 

His Majesty the King never simply issues a directive: the impetus comes from the local population, who must agree with the proposal and cooperate to see that it is successfully implemented.

The "royally-suggested" or "royal-initiated" projects have all been started in this way.  They cover the whole spectrum of rural problems in Thailand, from the introduction of new crops to water conservation, from swamp drainage to the preservation of the national forests.  In all, the aim has been sustainable development, serving not only immediate needs but also those of future generations by conserving the present environment and seeking to restore areas that have already suffered from misuse. 

These projects are later known as "Royal Development Projects", which are divided into many categories and carried out in every region of the country.  The Royal Development Projects can be classified as follows: 

     1. The Projects Initiated According to His Majesty's Wishes:  These are the projects that His Majesty implements, and in which he conducts study, and experiments himself.  They are based on the recommendations of experts, and use his private funds.  Once the projects have yielded satisfactory results, His Majesty passes them on to the government for further development. 

    2. The Royal Projects:  They are the private projects of Their Majesties the King and Queen, such as the crop substitution project and the preservation of watershed areas in the North.  The objectives of the crop substitution project are to stop opium cultivation, deforestation, and the slash and burn cultivation methods used by the hilltribes.  His Majesty has given advice and assistance to hilltribes on how to plant cool climate fruits and flowers, which yield a better income. 

    3. The Projects Under Royal Patronage:  They are projects on which His Majesty gives advice and guidelines to the private sector, which then implements them using its own funds, technical and human resources.  These projects include the Thai Encyclopaedia Project for Youth, the Dictionary Project, and the Din Daeng Cooperative Village Development Project. 

     4. The Royal-Initiated Projects:  They are projects which His Majesty Initiates, and gives advice to government agencies concerning necessary studies and implementation. 

 

The Royal Development Projects are also classified into the following eight categories, according to the sector of the economy that is targeted: 

      1. Agriculture 

      2. Environment 

      3. Public Health 

      4. Occupational Promotion 

      5. Water resources 

      6. Communications 

      7. Public Welfare, and 

      8. Others 

More details on Royal Development Projects can be found at http://www.rdpb.go.th 

Today, His Majesty is not just the Head of State, he has also become a key factor in the development of the country.  One of the best-known development theories suggested by His Majesty is "the New Theory".  Introduced many years ago, the New Theory involves land management and the development of water sources for agricultural purpose.  Its formula is 30-30-30-10.  Under the New Theory, a plot of land is divided into four portions, namely 30 percent for a water source, 30 percent for a rice field, 30 percent for mixed crops such as fruit trees and vegetables and 10 percent for residence, animal farms and rice barns

The New Theory has several advantages.  It is uncomplicated, easily implemented, and does not involve costly technology.  It has been tried and tested, and has produced satisfactory results.  Farmers who have followed this theory have   become self-sufficient and self-reliant.

All Thais come to understand the word "self-sufficient" after His Majesty the king suggested a self-sufficient economy as a way to pull Thailand out of the economic crisis that erupted in 1997.   The important idea of a self-sufficient economy is that the Thais should live a life that leaves them enough to eat, while they rely on their own economy.  With rich and fertile land suitable for food crops, Thailand should conduct research and development on soil and crop improvement.  People should produce enough for their own consumption first.  His Majesty the King has suggested Government spend part of its budget on land development for people to establish self-sufficient farms.  People are encouraged to apply the New Theory on land management and development of water sources for agricultural purposes.  When there is a surplus in productivity, more exports will be seen, and a higher economic growth will  return. 

His Majesty the King's suggestion on the self-sufficient economy aims to encourage people to help themselves and strengthen communities through public participation.  The idea places emphasis on basic economic development to be carried out step by step.  People will greatly benefit from the development process, which is set to respond to their immediate economic demands and enable them to get through the crisis.  This new development trend is beginning to lay down firm foundations for all of Thailand. 


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