The Royal Project Foundation (RPF) is based in the north of Thailand, founded by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great in 1969, aiming to improve the quality of life of hill-tribe people by diminishing opium growing and reviving natural forests and water resources. For over five decades, a good number of national and international organizations have recognized the achievements of the Royal Project Foundation as the best practice in sustainable highland development.
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua has made firm commitments to nurture, conserve, and extend the work of the Royal Project Foundation to ensure its continued operation, offering the highland people with a better living while generating positive consequences to other countries regionally and globally.
On the occasion of the Royal Project’s 50th Anniversary, the Royal Project Foundation and its partner, Highland Research and Development Institute (Public Organization) (HRDI) consider it is timely to organize the International Conference on Rising to the Challenge of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Sustainable Highland Development: The Royal Project Model. This Conference will provide a platform for sharing to other organizations, both internally and internationally, successful endeavours, knowledge and experiences of the Royal Project on promotion of illicit crop replacement and support a holistic approach for sustainable highland development. Keynote Speakers from international organizations will be invited to share their experiences on SDGs on highland development. Moreover, representatives from the countries that have followed the Royal Project model and those practicing their alternative development model will also be invited to facilitate knowledge sharing, lessons learnt, and good practices for sustainable highland development in the region and the world.
Tuesday 24 December 2019: 14.00 – 16.00 hrs. (Day 3)
The conference will be held 22 – 24 December 2019, at the Royal Park Rajapruek, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Monday 23 December 2019
Mae Hae is a Hmong village with 1,750 households. Mae Hae used to be an opium village where a slash-and-burn was generally practiced by the villagers. The whole of Mae Hae sits on a high areas surrounded by high mountain ranges with peaks of 1,400 + 1,500 meters above sea level.
The Royal Project Development Center, Mae Hae was established by His Majesty King Rama IX in 1978 to help hill-tribes grow alternative crops mainly temperate vegetables and fruits as replacement crops for opium and develop sustainable cultivation methods instead of the destructive slash-and-burn farming, to enable the farmers to increase their earnings, to improve their living standard and to promote reforestation. The Center works closely with farmers to establish farm produce with Food Safety Standards: Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and McDonald G.A.P.
In the year 2018, 586 farmers under the responsibility of Mae Hae Royal Project Development Center produced about 3,500 tons of farm produces generating the value through the Royal Project markets at about 3 million US dollars and another 6 million US dollars through local market.
Routing in brief:
Monday 23 December 2019
Pa Miang and Teen Tok Villages are close to each other about 30 kms. The villagers in these areas were formerly local tea growers with environmental protection. More than 40 years ago, they faced difficulties due to the price of tea leaves were gradually low. With its topography features of complex steep mountainous terrain and hilly evergreen forest at 650 – 1,500 meters above sea level where mushroom and arabica coffee could be possible. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great (King Rama IX) then gave his personal money to the Royal Project Development Centers to set up demonstration plots for shiitake mushroom and arabica coffee cultivation in order for the tea farmers to have alternative crops for their income generation without harming the natural resources and environment. Arabica coffee is cultivated under soil and water conservation system.
Later, the farmers have expanded to other potential crops including flowers and fruits to gain more income, improve locals’ life quality making them self-sufficient as well as to restore and conserve the environment. To prevent coffee rust, decrease diseases and pests and conserve the forests, farmers grows coffees and other crops together under the shades of trees or in the abundant forest.
Routing in brief:
Monday 23 December 2019
Pang Dang Nai Village is situated on a steep mountainous terrain at 548 – 900 meters above sea level with 62 households comprising more than 300 Dara-ang (Pa-long) hill tribe people. The first group of 11 Dara-ang families migrated from Shan State, Myanmar to Doi Ang Khang, Fang District, Chiang Mai Province and then to Pang Dang Nai, Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai Province due to political instability and ethnic minority conflicts. Their main problems are poverty, low productivity, deforestation and debt.
The Highland Research and Development Institute (HRDI) stepped in this village in the year 2006 using the Royal Project System to help develop the community. The villagers have been introduced to grow corn as their main crop intercropped with vegetables, fruit trees such as mango, longan, passion fruit and custard apple to minimize the loss of soil fertility, protect natural resources and environment and diversify income sources. HRDI has created awareness to the community on natural preservation.
The villagers have been encouraged to greatly increase their productivity. The community becomes self-reliant with strong participation from villagers for their sustainable self-sufficiency. Several groups have been formed based on abilities such as women group, farming group, youth group. At present, the villagers have freed themselves of huge amount of debt. Pang Dang Nai has been on its path as a no-burn community for more than 10 years.
Routing in brief:
On 15 October 2005, the Government of Thailand passed the Royal Decree on Establishment of the Highland Research and Development Institute (Public Organization), HRDI. The decree inaugurated HRDI as responsible for the development of new processes and mechanisms to support and strengthen the Royal Project’s research and development activities. The focus of HRDI lies on sustainable social and economic development in Thai highlands working beyond the existing operating areas of the Royal Project. It provides support to the Royal Project and extends its success throughout the country.
The founding of HRDI is a credit to the success of the Royal Project which was initiated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1969 to eradicate opium poppy cultivation, improve hill tribe community livelihoods and rehabilitate Thailand’s highland watershed forests. HRDI works closely with the Royal Project Foundation to encourage the use of technologies and innovations that were already generated by the Royal Project. Integrating and combining them with local and indigenous wisdom and knowledge, and to support the participation of highland communities in the Royal Project’s watershed forest rehabilitation, are one of the most important tasks of HRDI. Besides HRDI’s efforts to eradicate opium and enhance biodiversity and conservation, HRDI also collaborates with international partners to exchange technologies in order to achieve the best and most effective solutions for these highland challenges.
Following the inauguration of HRDI in 2005, it was announced on 9 June 2009 that the responsibilities of HRDI should be expanded. Since then, HRDI also manages the Royal Flora Rajapruek and its exhibitions. The Royal Flora Rajapruek is the site of the International Horticultural Exposition that was established in commemoration to His Majesty’s 60th Anniversary of His Accession to the throne and His 80th Birthday in 2006. HRDI organized the activities, exhibitions and facilities promoting green energy and sustainable development. On 23 January 2010, His Majesty the King renamed the Royal Flora Rajapruek to the Royal Park Rajapruek.
The Highland Research and Development Institute (HRDI) is following the great success of the Royal Project Foundation. Therefore, HRDI expands the Royal Project Model to Sustainable Develop Highland Communities. It extends the Royal Project achievements to other highland areas. At present, operations at 44 highland sites including villages in 92 districts in 8 provinces are included. The program has a target population of 256,955 people from 67,327 households. HRDI is committed to the success of the Hill Tribe communities. It provides the Hill Tribes of the expansion area with a business and social strategy in order to encourage and strengthen sustainable development and improve the livelihoods of the Hill Tribes. There are various projects in the social and economical field. Goal is the self-sufficiency and an enhancement of local proactive initiatives based on respect for indigenous knowledge and traditions. This exchange will ideally lead to mutual learning, understanding and trust on both sides. HRDI drives for human capacity building including training courses for Hill Tribes, educational campaigns and access to external knowledge in marketing and business as well as funding to face the development needs of the Hill Tribe communities. An important focus lies on promoting sustainable development through learning centers. They combine indigenous knowledge of the local community and development knowledge of modern agricultural techniques.
The Highland Research and Development Institute (HRDI) support the Royal Project Development Centers to work cooperatively and in an integrated manner with provincial and local administrative organizations on knowledge transfer; and thereby support the Royal Project Development Centers become high quality sustainable highland development learning centers.
Research and development to support and extend the activities of the Royal Project HRDI enhances the continuity of the Royal Projects’ success by integrating research based on technology, environmental rehabilitation and marketing as well as conducting socio-economic investigation.
Action research to extend Royal Project’s achievements into general highland areas HRDI conducts action research that applies and test previous Royal Project results in new operational areas. A particular focus lies on restoring traditional community food banks and biodiversity. The research will involve studies, compilation and further involvement of local knowledge in order to achieve new highland environmental rehabilitation methods and community marketing systems.
Marketing and Distribution of Hill Tribe Products HRDI is responsible to support the Hill Tribes with logistical matters such as the distribution of Hill Tribe products to local and national markets, e.g. Tops Market and Tesco. This work also includes the consultation of Hill Tribes regarding a marketing strategy, OTVOP and agricultural methods. All income goes directly to the support of the Hill Tribes. There is a broad selection of Hill Tribe products such as handicrafts, agricultural products (GAP standards) and traditional gift items.
Promotion of local and international cooperation HRDI initiates international cooperation and consultation to enhance technology and knowledge transfer. The work of the Royal Project and HRDI is the most successful of Thailand’s development projects. Thus, HRDI promotes the Royal Project and its successful replacement of opium poppy cultivation to the international community. The responsible unit of HRDI is the Department of International Cooperation. The Royal Thai government has recognized that, in the light of Thailand’s relatively developed status, and its success in meeting development challenges, Thailand should offer mutual technical cooperation to other countries and thereby help to assist in dealing with global challenges. By organizing international symposiums and training sessions for development agencies which are active in the major developing highland areas and drug-crop producing regions in the world, HRDI launches an international network for sharing knowledge and new technologies of sustainable highland development. This will lead to a continuously improvement of the techniques and methods used in various regions in the world. Therefore, international cooperation can be of mutual benefit.