Born in 1927 in the United States, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej will be remembered as a true “King of the People”. It is said that he embodied the virtues of Buddha, championing the poor and creating stability in his country.
During his 70-year reign (the longest serving monarch in the world), from 1946 till 2016, King Bhumibol achieved greatness, modernizing Thailand while revitalizing ancient traditions.
King Bhumibol personally launched over 4,000 development and social welfare projects in areas such as agriculture, fishing and health. Ensuring there was adequate food for his subjects was a cause that was close to the King’s heart.
He strengthened the local food industry by introducing better strains of rice, building milk pasteurizing plants, and supporting sustainable fish farms.
In the fight against poverty, King Bhumibol set up rice banks to reduce food shortages and teach farmers new ways of growing their crops. He also established the Royal Cattle Buffalo Bank, giving poor farmers access to water buffalos to plough their fields and provide milk.
The King’s passion for sustainability extended to his own backyard. The Royal Chitralada Projects, set in the royal residence of Chitralada Villa in Bangkok, was home to experimental rice fields, fish ponds, a dairy farm, mushroom gardens and various agricultural projects, all with the aim of improving the food systems of Thailand.
This also gave the King a first-hand insight into the struggles of farm life:
“We have had some occasions to study and try farm work and are well aware that farming is hard work with quite a few obstacles to overcome. The first requisite is improved grain strains and there are various processes to follow before obtaining substantial results. There is one more thing. The rice field after the farming season is over, should be utilized to plant some other crops. That will not only bring in a sizable extra income but also loosen the soil, increase its natural fertilizer content, thus improving the quality of soil and making it more fertile for the next farming season”
King Bhumibol will be remembered as a scholar, an inventor, and a man of great intellect, a true leader of the people, and a wise man with a generous heart.
For an insight into the King’s way of life, find out more about the Royal Food of Thailand from Professor Srisamon, once a cook in the Royal Residence.
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