Doi Kham is the
Symbol of Royal Projects
As you have enjoyed sight-seeing around Chiangmai and the North of Thailand, or perhaps dined in some of our many fine restaurants, have you noticed the huge range of fresh vegetables or the colorful profusion of flowers which are available? Maybe not because Westerners tend to take such things for granted and rarely question where their origin.
In the case of Thailand, many of these vegetables and flowers are not native to the country but neither are they imported! They come to us, in ever greater numbers, from what are called the Royal Projects. And "Doi Kham", on the outskirts of Chiangmai, is a central office of such Royal Projects in Northern Thailand. In order to understand the spelling, pronunciation, and meaning of the word of "Doi Kham", the explanation should be "Doi or doy" in the north means mountain or hill. Meanwhile, "Kham" or "come" is shortened from "Thongcome" which means "Gold". Therefore, the misused or encroached or mismanaged hills and mountains are converted to gold mines -- hill tribes and farmers can proudly earn more income than they used to.
Many years ago, as His Majesty King Bhumibol moved and toured around his kingdom observing and listening, he became increasingly aware of many rural problems facing both the people and the land. Especially in the hilly, northern regions where subsistence farming was of the slash and burn variety, where forests were being reduced to ashes and where the growing of opium poppies was the only way for farmers to make and economic return. In order to stop this devastating waste, and to give the people -- both Thai and Hilltribes -- a better living, something had to be done. Under His Majesty's Royal Command, and directly under his guidance, the Royal Projects were created.
The message was simple, the task enormous, education, research, development, production, marketing and distribution -- right across the board for animal husbandry, agriculture, horticulture, viticulture and even hydroponics. Under His Majesty's leadership, Royal Projects Foundation was established. Dedicated, knowledgeable professionals were appointed to direct each Project and they were supported by teams of qualified personnel from universities, government departments, students and, of course, the Thai and Hilltribe farmers. In the Royal Northern Projects, each Director reports to Prince Bhisatej Rajani who is the overall coordinator and he, in turn, reports directly to His Majesty King Bhumibol
Finance for the Royal Projects Foundation could have been a major stumbling block, however, His Majesty took it upon himself to personally fund many of the projects during their start-up stage. Government and foreign agencies were also persuaded by His Majesty's diplomacy to lend their support both in terms of grants and technology. And it has all been a wonderful success.
The Royal Projects Foundation currently runs four research stations and thirty-five Development Centre which draw from and cares for, 295 villages comprising of 14,109 families. This is an involvement of approximately 85,000 rural Thai and Hilltribe peoples!
Here on the outskirts of Chiangmai, at our own Doi Kham Royal Project, a wealth of flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables are produced for market. Vegetables such as leeks, carrots, lettuce and broccoli plus a host of others. Exotic fruits and flowers --kiwi fruit, protean, pussy-willow, avocado, carnation -- are in abundance. Herbs like mint, lemon thyme, rosemary and basil flavor the air. There are also canned and frozen juices and vegetables, dehydrated purees, dried flowers and pot-pouri, and more. We could go on and on! It is also with great North Thailand pride that the name "Doi Kham" has become the brand-name for all Royal Projects Foundation products -- a name that has became synonymous with quality, value and freshness.
So, the next time you wander around the flower markets or admire that beautiful floral display in your hotel foyer. Think of where they perhaps come from. The next time you savor the crunchy crispness of fresh vegetables, or spoon pest sauce over your pasta or watch your waiter toss that Caesar salad -- think Royal Project - think "Doi Kham". Delicious Doi Khammmmmm!
Visit the Annual Doi Kham Weekend Exhibition at the Empress Hotel from December 15 - 17 this year.