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Royal Project in Esarn & Laos, Part III

The National Office of Public Relations Region 3 office under the supervision of Director Somjai Sasomsarp invited journalists to report on long term Royal Projects established in northeast Thailand from November 26-29, 2007. The projects are only few of more than 3,000 Royal Initiated Projects throughout the country. Known abroad as the “Development King”, His Majesty’s 80th Birthday Anniversary in the year 2007 marked the auspicious occasion.

Day Three (Continued from January 2008 issue)

On the morning of Wednesday, 28th November 2007, we checked out of the Royal Red Flower Hotel (โรงแรมรอยัล"อกไม้แ"ง) in Vientien and headed straight to visit two projects in one day. Agricultural Development Service Project at Huay_Zorn Huay_ Zua (ห้วยซอน_ห้วยซั้ว) and the Cultural Orphanage School (โรงเรียนวั'นธรรมเ"็กกำพร้า หลัก 67) at Muang Pone Hoang 67 kilometers from the city. We would have never believed the weather could be so cool in Vientianne and Nong Khai.

After visiting the two projects on the same day, around dusk, we arrived at the bus arcade duty free shop on the Lao side of the border. We bought Smirnoff, imported prunes, cheese, dolly key chains, a wind-up Chinese doll, chocolate truffles, and a souvenir cloth bag.

Our group checked into the Thai_Lao Riverside Hotel. That evening we put on a celebration party complete with skits, dancing and singing. After all that exercise each person slept soundly until early morning.

We left mid-morning for the Pha Naang-Pha Kerng (ผาแ"ง_นางเกิ้ง) in Pha Innplaang subdistrict (ต. ผาอินทร์แปลง), District Erawan (อ.เอราวั") about 50 kilometers from the provincial city. This project is one of 29 projects selected for tourism development. The area started with 135 rai and since increased to 495 rai. The housewives benefit from their weaving projects and receive about Baht 170 average per day from weaving and artificial flower making. The role of the project is to help villagers improve the quality of life-style and develop supplementary skills to bring in additional income.

The main income earners are from harvesting sap of rubber trees and various agriculture planting. When not raising rice there are four months the farmers can do something else to make money.

The woodcarving crafts are good selling items and because sales are good at local fairs, not many wooden products sit in storage. As for the weaving supplies, silk thread is purchased from elsewhere and the weavers follow the specific pattern of the village.

The project located at the border between Erawan district of Loei (จ. เลย) province and Nohng Bua Lampu (จ. หนองบัวลำภู) province covers five villages. The villagers had in the past destroyed the forest but now are educated to care for the forest. The project started in 1992 and the royal family have visited five times. The villagers look forward to a royal visit sometime in 2008 though the visit has not been officially confirmed.

The army personnel act only as advisors and do not actually teach techniques. The objective for the 29 soldiers and 132 members of the 50 families in the project are to preserve the culture, traditions, look after the environment and develop the tourism features in the destination.. Medical help assistance is also established in the area.

The forestry department is very impressed with the progress of the project and so far have turned over 1,500 rai for the army to be responsible for conservation. In 1992 the project started with eight families and now have fifty families benefiting from the project. The planting of rubbers trees covers 300 rai. Each homeowner has 2.5 rai, raises their own vegetables and cattle. Other activities include producing wood products, basket work and preserving traditional crafts of the area. Wood products sold under the Peacock brand earn nearly one million baht per year. Vocational training continues to produce wooden spoons and forks, herbal health drinks and brown rice. A supply of milk is produced from a herd of 24 dairy cattle. Other sideline businesses are raising frogs and fish; chicken and ducks; deer; mushroom plus crickets. The villagers are well known for Naam Prik Jing Leed (Cricket Dip). Wine making from delicious fruits is another popular item.

There is an established rice co-operative and rice bank. Rarely used these days are chemicals or pesticides. Nearly 2,000 farmers have been trained to use “yaa faek” a miracle grass. There are seasonal youth camps with students from Thailand and Laos learning the anti drug message.

As for the tourism development there are accommodations for 100 visitors in tents or lodging with activities of bike rental and hiking. To create awareness in visitors about preserving the forest, each year the Queen’s birthday, August 12th is tree planting day on 1,500 rai. The military safeguard against mud slide by not allowing trees to be cut in the middle. The water source is maintained with check dams being built to conserve natural waterways found on hillsides, bysimpll materials: rocks sand earth.

The Goals of Her Majesty Queen’s initiated project is to stop forest encroachment and to create a balance between humans in the natural environment of “Baan Leg nai Pa Yai”, (meaning a small house in a big forest.) The history of the location started from eight impoverished families from the areas of Mookdahan and Mahasarakm provinces. As of 2007, fifty families or 132 persons have benefited from the 1,997 rais.

The Royal Initiated Projects are spread throughout all regions of the country and focus on both short-term and long-term development. His Majesty’s New theory : A piece of land is divided into 4 parts with a ratio of 30 : 30 : 30 : 10% for pond, orchard or garden, rice field, and residence area respectively. The pond allows fish, frog, duck and chicken to be raised as well as water vegetables to be grown. Land vegetables and fruit trees can be grown in the garden. The last two parts of land are for rice growing and house area respectively. Time and again, the projects enable and teach the people to live a better life without destroying the environment or natural resources. His Majesty shares his far-reaching knowledge in many fields and he is not an extravagant man. He believes in sustainable living " use only what is needed and nature will replenish herself. He does and he learns and he experiments. The best equipment and the best methods are not always the most expensive.

Continued in Next Issue


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