Promoting service through practical actions
text size

Promoting service through practical actions

Building on sufficiency economy principles drawn up by King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, HM the King believes community work will help improve people's happiness

The Khok Nong Na Model ("Mound, Marsh, and Rice Field") is an agricultural model invented by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, which adapts sustainable economic principles for the people's happiness.

Under the model, a farmer is advised to earmark equal parts of their land to grow plants, construct a pond, and build a house.

Last year, to mark the King's 71st birthday, the Bangkok Post talked with former agriculture and cooperatives minister Wiwat Salyakamthorn, in his capacity as chairman of the Sufficiency Economy Institute and founder of the Agri-Nature Foundation, about the model's underlying principles and significance.

First introduced in a drawing by His Majesty the King, the model is part of His Majesty's effort to keep the legacy of his late father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, alive.

Mr Wiwat is one of the main figures behind the model.

He is a curriculum designer who, from 1981 onwards, worked with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great on past iterations of the model before working on the current model with King Rama X.

The former minister, more commonly known as Ajarn Yak, started his journey with His Majesty the King in 2020 as one of the teachers at Rong Rien Jitarsa ("Royal Thai Volunteers' School").

Mr Wiwat said that those who wanted to apply as teachers were required to submit their application to the school's secretariat. He was hand-picked by His Majesty to teach agriculture to the royal volunteers.

"I didn't think I would get the opportunity to work with His Majesty, who is a progressive and thoughtful person who used his pilot's mind to look for well-rounded solutions to problems," Mr Wiwat said.

His Majesty established the royal volunteer school to help citizens who wish to give back to the public to expand their capabilities.

Those who wish to learn more about the model are welcome to join the school, he said.

Mr Wiwat said the first three batches of students at the school, two of whom were royal aides-de-camp, were trained on the model at the 200-rai Khok Nong Na ranch in the 11th Infantry Regiment base. The ranch was turned into a training centre modelled after the Mab-Euang Agriculture Centre in Chon Buri's Ban Bung district.

Initially, the Agri-Nature Foundation organised five sessions of 14-day courses for a total of 2,500 participants, all based on His Majesty's vision to promote practical public service serving the immediate needs of the people.

Mr Wiwat said volunteers are not only taught about the Khok Nong Na model but also encouraged to do good deeds for the country.

"His Majesty is keen to develop the country through human resources development,'' Mr Wiwat said.

The Department of Corrections was the first agency to implement the model in September of that year, and 80 inmates detained at the Central Women's Correctional Institution participated in the initial push to promote it.

The programme was later expanded to other prisons nationwide to ensure prisoners have the ability to sustain themselves once they complete their sentences, said Mr Wiwat.

The project started with 80 convicts in the Central Women's Correctional Institution, 27 of whom were foreigners, who were set to be released by royal pardon in 2020. In the same year, the model was expanded to Klong Prem Central Prison and then to another 137 prisons nationwide.

Mr Wiwat's training session included art therapy, in which the convicts were encouraged to work with clay before moving on to practical farming training. Each convict was expected to spend 7-10 days learning how to tend to crops, he said.

In total, 100,000 convicts took part in the programme in 2020. Less than 6% of the inmates offended again after they were released, down from 16% before the programme was rolled out, which reflects its success, he said.

His Majesty used his own funds to support the project, Mr Wiwat said, noting the King spent over 89 million baht for the course in 2020.

Mr Wiwat said the Khok Nong Na model was not invented to remind participants to be grateful to the royal family but so they could take the knowledge to their hometowns.

"His Majesty urged the public not to be jealous of others. He wants everyone, including royal family members, to become a role model for others, which is why he became involved with the model," said Mr Wiwat.

Do you like the content of this article?