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Thais celebrate King Bhumibol’s birthday, also recognized as World Soil Day

Tens of millions of people across Thailand celebrated and paid homage to constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej who turned 87 on December 5.  Internationally, December 5 is also recognized as World Soil Day in recognition of His Majesty the King’s work to conserve soil resources essential for food security and sustainable development.
 
Countless people, including some foreigners, found their own unique and innovative ways to show respect to the King, cycling from city to city or walking great distances, sometimes under sponsorship with the money going to various charities.  
 
Thais in cities around the world, including in the United States, also held public celebrations.  In Europe, nearly one thousand Thais from 18 countries braved snow and freezing weather to attend ceremonies at the Place de la Riponne in Lausanne, Switzerland.  In the online world, Google's Doodle yesterday featured a Thai flag and yellow canna – considered to be King Bhumibol's flower.  Many Thai web surfers changed their social media profile photos to portraits of the King or other memes to reflect their love, admiration and devotion to the King.
 
King Bhumibol, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty and who has reigned for 68 years – the longest reign of any monarch alive today – has spent decades on throne working to uplift the poor and marginalized, and encouraging others to work for the same goal.  This frequently involved improving the lives of farmers, and the King spent many years in his laboratory and in the field experimenting with different strains of rice and other crops, and with various natural methods, among others, to preserve and enhance the fertility of soil.  
 
In recognition of those efforts, and the central role of soil to the lives of farmers, the United Nations General Assembly has named December 5 World Soil Day and 2015 the International Year of Soils.  Thailand, in partnership with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, worked for two years to gain approval from the General Assembly.  In 2012, the International Union of Soil Science (IUSS) presented to King Bhumibol the first Humanitarian Soil Scientist award for his dedication to soil resource management.
 
This year, events were held in Rome, New York and Bangkok, as well as other cities around the world, to kick off the World Soil Day and the International Year in an effort to raise awareness and promote more sustainable use of soil.   His Majesty King Bhumibol designated his granddaughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, to represent him and read his message for the event in New York. 
 
Focusing on the theme of “Health Soils for a Healthy Life,” the King’s message underscored the central role of soil to human survival and the two sets of soil-related challenges which have direct repercussions on food security of the world population, namely: the degradation of fertile soils due to wasteful use and mismanagement, and the problem of soil infertility.  “In order to ensure a viable, long-term food security and a sustainable ecosystem, these issues must be addressed as an urgent priority with the commitment to adopt the best practices in soil conservation, soil reconditioning and enrichment to make soils fit and ready for cultivation.”
 
For Thailand and the United States, King Bhumibol symbolizes the two countries’ special ties – being the only monarch ever born on mainland United States.  President Barack Obama was one of several world leaders who sent a message to the King on his birthday.  “Your Majesty,” the President wrote.  “The people of the United States join me in sending heartfelt congratulations to Your Majesty on your birthday this December 5.  The United States and Thailand enjoy a strong and productive relationship spanning more than 180 years.”
 
See the original article at Thailand e-Focus

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