The four-day event is scheduled for 26-29 December.
An initiative of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Royal Project came into being in 1969, when he stayed at Bhuphing Palace in Chiang Mai. He visited and talked to hilltribe villagers, who told him about their sources of income. They said that the income from the growing of opium and peaches was about the same. At that time, tribal people living in the highlands had become a problem to the Government, partly because of their destructive slash-and-burn technique of clearing land, as well as their traditional cultivation of opium poppies.
In his speech at Chiang Mai University in the same year, His Majesty said that he intended to help hilltribe people grow useful crops that would give a higher income than growing opium, so that they would switch from opium cultivation to other crops. The project would also support the Government’s policy of banning opium cultivation and trade. He pointed out that the traditional farming method of cutting down and burning the forest conducted by hilltribe villagers would lead to forest destruction and deterioration of soil quality.
There are currently 38 development centers under the Royal Project in northern provinces to help farmers collect, distribute, and sell highland produce, while improving their quality of life through education, health care, and environmental preservation. All 38 development centers will bring their organic produce to be sold at the Royal Project fair in Chiang Mai.
A wide variety of products, especially organic fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, under the Royal Project, is on show. We went to inspect the magnificent displays this afternoon. We also bought a pumpkin, cape gooseberries, passionfruit oranges, and pecan pie.