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Contribution to Farmers

In the late 1960s, northern Thailand was still heavily forested and the only way to reach many areas was on rutted dirt roads or steep walking trails. Indefatigable, His Majesty trudged hours each day to visit dozens of tribal villages to discuss agricultural improvements that would benefit them. In the process, he introduced a multitude of fruits and vegetables never-before raised: strawberries, mushrooms, apples, asparagus, even flowers. In keeping with his philosophy of utilising local resources, he planted crops that would not require major infrastructure investment, advanced expertise, or outside assistance. Today, nearly every village has at least one farmer who owns a windowless thatched shed in which he grows one of a half dozen varieties of mushrooms. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej understood that it was not enough to grow new and better crops, he had to create transportation systems, roadways, and marketing strategies to ensure the produce reached customers. Today vegetables harvested in the hills are available in city markets the next day. Orchids cut today appear the following morning in flower stalls in European cities. Hilltribe men and women were also taught basic accounting and marketing skills so they could transact their own business. Many of these proto-programmes were later extended to Thai villages.

 

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