Royal Project Foundation


It was his private trips to the high hills and his determination to save highland people from growing opium that brought about "The Royal Project"

One of initiated projects of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. Funded by His Majesty's personal fund, the Royal Project commenced its works in 1969.

"Don't grow opium, it yields little profit and can only be grown once a year, instead, grow peaches, coffee and cold-region crops and get year round profit."

It started with His Majesty's unofficial visits to the high hills

At His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit stay in Chiang Mai, they made their way to the mountains and observed the hill tribe way of life despite the inconvenience due to rugged roads.

Each year during the winter months, as the King took up residence in Chiang Mai, he made frequent trips to the surrounding areas to visit the local people.

At Doi-Jom-Hod village, Amphoe Praow, Chiang Mai province, head chief of Baan Lisu invited His Majesty to have a seat on the specially prepared mattress and to taste his hand-brewed corn liquor. His Majesty complimented the head chief that the liquor was sweet hence led the head chief to offer His Majesty the entire bottle of liquor.

Over four decades earlier

Thailand's highlands - located in the northern region of the country - were where the highland communities resided. The poverty-stricken highland people had been in need of basic infrastructure - including medical facilities and transportation. They adopted slash-and-burn farming and destroyed a number of forests. The highland communities at that time relied on opium cultivation for income and medicinal uses which in turn caused issues with drug abuse and created substantial damages to forestry and environmental resources.

The barren condition of Angkhang mountain in the past causing of invaded slash-and-burn practice.

The hill tribe citizens in the past lived with poverty and made a living from cultivating opium and using it as medicine for illnesses.

In 1969 
As the King visited a Hmong hill tribe village at Doi Pui, not far away from Bhubing Palace in Chiang Mai, he learned that the villagers earned only little amount of money from opium. Apart from growing opium, they also reaped and sold local peaches, which - despite their small sizes - generated the similar amount of income.

It was important information that helped His Majesty the King realized that the way to overcome opium poppy was to persuade Hmong people to grow peach instead of opium poppy which generated them the same or more income.

At that time, His Majesty the King was informed that Doi Pui Research Station, a temperate fruit research station of Kasetsart University was conducting a search on peach varieties by grafting large peach scions onto the stalk of local peaches. Thus, he suggested to conduct a research on suitable peach varieties with geographical features and climate of northern Thailand in order to strive for large sweet peach which could generate higher income than opium poppy.

His Majesty the King bestowed on his personal money 200,000 baht to Kasetsart University for buying a piece of land to use as a temperate fruit research plot. Later, this land was named as Suan Song Saen. His Majesty the King also established “Royal Project under His Patronage for Hill Tribe” by appointing HSH Price Bhisatej Rajani to take a position of the Project Director, afterwards its name was changed to “Royal Project for Hill Tribe Development”, “Northern Royal Project” and finally “Royal Project” in 1980. There were volunteers from various universities and organizations joined this project.

To completely eliminate the cultivation of opium, finding a crop that has a good market price and is compatible with the soil as a substitute to opium for the farmers is necessary.

Once, shortly after established Royal Project, His Majesty the King travelled to Nong Lom village, Chom Thong district, Chiang Mai by walk to see 2-3 Arabica coffee trees that he gave to hill tribe people. That visit made hill tribe people realize the significance of coffee which resulted in widespread planting of Arabica coffee throughout the northern Thailand until present.

The Royal Project Foundation

On April, 1992

His Majesty the King endorsed to register Royal Project as the Royal Project Foundation which became an organization supported by law, so that the Royal Project could continue its activities securely and stably. His Majesty the King has taken a position of Honorary President, while HSH Price Bhisatej Rajani has taken a position of Chairman of Royal Project Foundation.

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