The Royal Project is an initiative of His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. It was founded in 1969 to solve the problems of deforestation, poverty and opium production by promoting alternative crops. It was the world’s first project to replace drug-crops with legal crops and is one of the most successful projects of this type.
The Early Beginnings
The Royal Project was created after His Majesty the King visited the hill-tribe village of Doi Pui in 1969. During this visit, the King learned of a variety of peach tree that provided the local farmers with a higher income than the opium poppy. His Majesty realized that alternative agriculture including fruit trees as a major component could be used to replace opium and would generate higher incomes, solving the problems of poverty, opium production and deforestation at the same time. His Majesty immediately called on national and international agencies to make this vision a reality, and the Royal Project was born.
“One of the reasons underlying the creation of the project was humanitarianism; the desire that these people living in remote areas should become self-supporting and more prosperous. Another reason, and which has received support from all sides, was to solve the problem of heroin. (…) A further reason which is very important is that, as is well known, the hill tribes are people who use agricultural methods which, if left unchecked, could bring the country to ruin. In other words they cut down trees and practice ‘slash and burn’ methods which are totally wrong. If we help them it is tantamount to the country in general having a better standard of living and security.”
His Majesty the King on 10th of January 1969 at the Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University