Royal farming model off to running start

Royal farming model off to running start

Suttipong Juljarern sheds some light on 'Khok Nong Na'

People grow rice in tambon Klong Ton Pho of Ban Pho district in Chachoengsao. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
People grow rice in tambon Klong Ton Pho of Ban Pho district in Chachoengsao. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The Khok Nong Na model is a new agricultural concept based on the New Theory Agriculture and the Sufficiency Economy philosophy initiated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great.

Suttipong Juljarern, director-general of the Community Development Department, spoke to the Bangkok Post to explain what it's all about.

Financed by the department's 2019 budget, Khok Nong Na has the ultimate goal of creating a good life with agricultural best practices championed by King Rama IX and further developed by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua.

In essence, the Khok Nong Na model refers to the application of indigenous farming wisdom to produce a modern-day farming method intended for the kingdom's new generation of farmers.

The model divides land into four parts: 30% for irrigation water storage, 30% for growing rice, 30% for growing a mixture of plants and the remaining 10% reserved for residential and livestock areas.

According to Mr Suttipong, the Khok Nong Na model sets a goal of planting at least 10 million perennial trees in farms that adopt the concept. The trees do not have to be a cash crop and can even be used as a guarantee when the farm owner applies for a loan with the government.

The model is still being piloted in Phitsanulok, Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet provinces.

"We are trying to encourage large farms to adopt the Khok Nong Na model," Mr Suttipong said. "We will help them process their produce and sell it. By joining the [Khok Nong Na] project, farms, large or small, they can collaborate so they can sell their produce at better prices. In the future, large farms can be turned into a shelter in times of natural disasters.

"For small farms of 1-3 rai, we want to turn them into a source of local wisdom. We give them five years to develop themselves as a learning centre to give advice to people in their communities, teaching them about how to do agriculture in line with the Sufficiency Economy concept and the New Theory.

"The Khok Nong Na project has many underlying objectives. We hope that it could serve community tourism by offering services to tourists who come to enjoy nature while learning about agricultural practices championed by the project."

Once the project expands nationwide, the director-general said the department would allow farmers and even temples to run it by themselves without financial assistance from the department. However, the department would continue its technical support for Khok Nong Na farms such as the use of Big Data and satellite technology.

"We have a dream to establish a university that teaches a degree in the New Theory Agriculture and other agricultural concepts developed by King Rama IX. The university will be likely located in Nakhon Nayok due to the province's problem of acidic soil," he said, saying he considered this problem a challenge for the Khok Nong Na project.

Tentatively named "The University of the King's Philosophy", over 4,000 royally-initiated projects, 40 agricultural concepts and the Khok Nong Na model will be taught at the university.

"We want to set up a centre that compiles knowledge and provides education to develop the quality of life comprehensively," he said.

"The university will have campuses nationwide with facilities similar to learning centres of the Khok Nong Na project for students of the university to intern in.

"With the Khok Nong Na model, we believe that everyone in society will be happy and the country will prosper."

The director-general urged people who are interested to learn the farming model to contact the provincial community development in each province or send him a letter or a direct message on his Facebook page.

"The Khok Nong Na model attests to the monarchy's generosity to share his agricultural concepts and theories based on the principle of self-reliance," he said.

The director-general reiterated that the Khok Nong Na model could solve almost all problems related to agriculture in Thailand such as drought and flooding.

"The Khok Nong Na model is friendly to the environment and respectful to nature," he said. "Farmers who adopt this model will definitely rely on themselves with produce they grow themselves at the farm."

Mr Suttipong said, however, that everything takes time, adding the project might not turn out to be as successful as hoped in the first year of its implementation.

Apart from helping to conserve the environment and improve people's quality of life, the director-general said he believed the project could unite people.

"What King Rama IX gave us and HM the King's determination to further develop the late King's work will benefit humanity, not just Thai people," he said.

"I believe that we will not live in poverty and will live a happy life if we follow the Sufficiency Economy concept."

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