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Pangda Project Celebrates 22 Years of Service

In 1969, to help reduce deforestation in Thailand's exotic hardwood forests through the traditional nomadic agricultural practices of indigenous Thai hilltribes, His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej initiated the first of the Royal Projects and Royal Recommended Projects using his own funds.

The primary aim of these projects is to provide a viable, sustainable agricultural life-style for Thai hilltribe people by aiming for self-sufficiency through a dignified, legal and reliable agricultural career allied with an improved quality of life for all members in a hilltribe family. "Doi Kham" is the brand name given to the agricultural products from these projects, under the management of Doi Kham Food Products Co., Ltd. Doi Kham's product policies are : "Focus" on continuous improvement in product quality, organization and farmers. "Maintain" customer satisfaction through and excellence in quality and service. "Sustain" international quality system with team and participation.

In 1979, H.M. the King had initiated a project that helped hilltribes to settle down by encouraging them to have a better career that provided higher income. Several kinds of vegetable were introduced to farmers along with production technologies such as non-chemical, fertilizer application and proper land use pattern in order that farmers can get optimum benefit from their lands. Later in 1985-1986, the project area had been expanded approximately 65 rai more. The main activity was focused on propagation, hence it was named "The Royal Propagation Center Pang Da".

On 12 February 1987, when H.M. the King paid the first visit to the center, he named the center as "The Royal Agricultural Station Pang Da" The implementation area expanded to approximately 150 rai to increase the competency in serving the activities of temperate crop propagation and other research works. At present, Pang Da Station has expanded its implementation to the tropical fruit trees, flowers, beans, vetiver and rapid-growth woods, and also conducted the activity of career development to the farmers live in the village nearby.

The Royal Agricultural Station Pang Da is situated in Pang Da village, Samerng District, approximately 47 kilometers northwest of the city of Chiangmai. The total area is 6,421.3 rai. Temperatures at Pang Da range from 8-38 oC with an average of 29.96 oC. The average annual rainfall is 1,300 ml. There are 6 villages under the responsibility of The Royal Agricultural Station Pang Da. The total population is 2,413 or 714 households. Most of them are local people and Lisu hilltribe.

Research works have been carried on temperate fruits including citrus growing on the highland, cultivation of Oranges guava Varietal selection, improvement of Passion fruit, Propagation of star fruit varieties SI-7 and SI-8 improvement and other imported fruit trees. Vegetables and herbs including curly leave kale and table tomatoes. Flowers and foliage plants including the application of Pacolbutrasol for controlling growth rate in order to produce pot plants and experimentation of several kinds of tropical flowers such as Curcuma alismatifolia, Curcuma rosceana.

Beans including the experimentation of special varieties of soybeans, navy bean, azuki been, red kidney beans to be cultivated in highlands. Biological control of citrus pests and producing natural enemies such as ladybird beetle, stink bug and citrus leaf eating caterpillar parasite. Meanwhile Propagation works include several kinds of plants are studied to be extended to farmers not only in the area but other Development Center under the Royal Project as well.

When you have a half day free to take a tour, be sure to take the loop drive from Chiangmai via Hangdong-Samerng-Mae rim and return to Chiangmai. The scenery is beautiful through the spectacular hills. The weather from November to February is cool and sometimes the temperature is lower than 8C in the early mornings. As you drive along you are welcome to stop at one of the original Royal Projects, the Pangda Station, about 40 minutes drive from Chiangmai.

Recently, the experts at Pangda Station held a "Vegetables and Legumes Exhibition" to educate the public about the many cultivated and wild varieties grown in the area. The basic principle of legumes is to naturally reintroduce nitrogen into the soil. The day was also a celebration acknowledging the accomplishment of producing azuki or red beans (an important ingredient in Japanese dessert paste), chick peas, garden peas, broad beans, and emperor asparagus naturally colored white, green or pink.

The exhibition displayed colorful posters and samples of the beans and vegetables. A cooking demonstration by Felafel Restaurant encouraged participants to taste the delicious dishes made from chick peas. At another booth azuki beans had been prepared in traditional Japanese snacks for tasting. Students were on hand to explain their science fair projects based on vegetables and legumes that produced various herbal concoctions as well. Because strawberries are a popular seasonal fruit from Samerng, samples of delicious strawberry wine were given out also to participants.

The established main objective of the Royal Project is to develop suitable temperate plants cultivated in the high mountain areas. This objective requires numerous research projects to be conducted. The research station projects can take up to 6 years to successfully produce new varieties due to the method of by hand pollination by hand. The pollination introduces benefits to weak varieties such as crossing plants with tolerance to disease and/ or bug manifestation.

It's easy to buy vegetables, fruits and herbal products from the Royal Project Supermarket at the corner of Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University on Suthep Road near the canal road intersection.

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