State agencies drive HM King Rama IX's projects, ensuring legacy lives on
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great has been gone four years already. Yet Thais continue expressing their love and loyalty to the revered monarch.
On Saturday, a sea of people wearing yellow shirts paid tribute to the late monarch at Sanam Luang in the evening to mark King Rama IX's birthday.
Yet King Rama IX's legacy goes beyond the love and loyalty extended by his subjects. His legacy in the form of royal initiative projects and sufficiency economy projects inspired by HM the King's philosophy of the Sufficiency Economy has deepened its roots thanks to six state organisations.
They are the Pid Thong Lang Phra Foundation, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Interior Ministry, the Prime Minister's Office and Office of the Royal Development Projects Board.
MR Disnadda Diskul, chairman of the Pid Thong Lang Phra Foundation, said royal projects have played a major role in the past few decades in providing a cushion for low-income people and farmers affected by natural disasters, degraded environment, trade wars or even employment problems caused by technology disruption.
The Pid Thong Lang Phra Foundation, launched a decade ago, promotes King Rama IX's Sufficiency Economy to help local communities and farmers.
Royal projects and the Sufficiency Economy philosophy have helped people affected by the pandemic, according to MR Disnadda.
A job scheme run by the foundation helps local people affected by Covid-19 pandemic in nine provinces -- Nan, Uthai Thani, Phetchaburi, Udon Thani, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.
The idea is to hire local people to develop water projects, a major capital resource for farming.
The projects aim to improve 450 water projects that supply water to 22,500 families for farming, and extend water supplies to 126,000 rai of land.
The foundation estimated that a better water supply can help local villagers make an extra 3,266 baht a month, or 882 million baht in total for 22,500 families.
The first phase started in March-July. The foundation spent 307 million baht hiring local farmers and workers to develop and improve water projects. They get a 320 baht daily allowance in return.
Apart from hiring people, the foundation supplies equipment and construction materials for developing water projects such as small dams and reservoirs.
The foundation also sent experts to train farmers in sustainable harvesting and water management, as well as developing community businesses and teaching locals about marketing know-how, according to MR Disnadda.
In the second phase, the foundation disbursed 470 million baht to hire 990 new graduates who are paid 15,000 baht a month.
In the third phase, starting next year and running until 2022, the foundation will direct the focus of royal projects into three main goals -- capacity building for efficiency farming, adding value to farm products and passing on business-know-how to community business.
The foundation during the past decade has developed 6,259 small dams and reservoirs feeding water to 275,714 rai, benefiting 80,247 families.
The foundation has also launched projects on forest planing and developing economic forests for villagers in Nan province to do small scale sustainable farming.
The project covers 106,580 rai in Nan province.
Villagers can earn make a sustainable living from taking care of forests and planting small-scale farms. The foundation also developed 67 fund management projects in communities working on the project. Now, fund management projects have 2,152 families with a revolving fund of 12 million baht.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will add forest cover of 2.68 million rai by 2027, according to Jatuporn Buruspat, the permanent secretary.
Thongplew Kongchan, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives said the ministry would infuse King Rama IX's Sufficiency Economy ideas into farm policy.
The ministry is responsible for executing the Royal Rain-Making project to supply rain to 230 million rai of land, and royal water development projects to supply 6.62 million rai. At the community level, the ministry has developed 54,364 groups on sustainable water management based on King Rama IX's teaching on sustainability. Work involving agriculture and soil development included helping farmers grow 1.4 million rai of vetiver grass which will help prevent soil erosion, and repair soil over 1.9 million rai.
The late king introduced the use of vetiver to prevent soil erosion. King Rama IX was named Humanitarian Soil Scientist in 2012 by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS). The IUSS subsequently announced Dec 5, the late king's birthday, as World Soil Day. On farming, the ministry has introduced sustainable farming schemes on 3.2 million rai of farm land.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (RDPB) is developing 4,877 royal initiative projects, according to Danucha Sinthawanond, secretary-general of the office. The RDPB oversees the projects initiated by King Rama IX. Apart from keeping 4,877 royal initiatives moving forward, the RDPB over the past decade also commissioned 1,323 research works on sustainable farming and development.