|Royal visits to rural areas all over the country and the questioning of local people themselves have made His Majesty realize that lacking of water is the major problem facing rice farmer. |
His observation on the nature of rice and water shortage came to the 4 main ideas.
1. Rice is a stress-endurance plant. It will survive and give more grain if water is correctly supplied.
2. Rainwater must be collected and reserve for cultivation and increase productivity of rice.
3. Large-scale water reservoirs are not practical due to the diverse community distribution and limited land area.
4. Small-scale water reservoirs or ponds at each family farm would be more practical and cost less.
|ROYAL " NEW THEORY "|
From one of the Royal visits at the northeastern provinces of Thailand, His Majesty found out that in the area with irregular rainfall the rice yield was only 1 tung/rai. Rice plant received only the dew at night, yet struggled to survive through the season. He, therefore, has suggested to build a small water reservoir lining with plastic sheets to keep rain water in each paddy field. This is how the " New Theory " for agricultural land management comes into practice.
This "New Theory" was based on the fact that an average farmer owns about 10-15 rai of farm land, this total amount of land should be divided into 3 parts for the following functions:
Part I : 30% of the total farm area (~3 rai) is reserved for water reservoir. The pond should be built at 4 meter deep with capacity to hold 19,000 m3 of rain water. This amount of water would be enough for agricultural use all year. The pond itself could be used not only for agriculture but for aquaculture as well to add more income to the farmers.
Part II : 30%+30% of the total farm area (~10 rai) is the agricultural land which is further divided into 2sections. The first half (5 rai) is paddy rice and the remaining (5 rai) is field crops or fruit trees depending on the condition of land and market.
His Majesty has calculated the water requirement for cultivation to be amounted to 1,000 m3 /rai in the dry season. Therefore, the total water reserve for 10 rai is added up to 10,000 m3 .
Part iii : The remaining 10% of the total farm area (~2 rai) will be used as residential area, roads, dikes, draining canals, as well as for family gardening and animal husbandry.
The 30-30-30-10 formula suggested by His Majesty became the "New Theory" of principle agricultural land management as follows:
1. It is practical to be used at small farm not larger than 15 raiin size (which is an average farm size in Thailand).His Majesty also has observed that water loss through vaporization could occur at the rate of 1 cm. each day in the dry season. If there are 60 raining days in a year, the level of water in the pond would remain only 1 meter deep from the bottom which is not enough for year-round agriculture. Therefore a supply of water from a large reservoir is needed to fill up the small ponds and make this theory implementable. He has tested his theory at Wat Mongkol Chai Pattana and has proven to be quite practical. The farmers are able to increase their farm yield with enough water each year.
2. The land management of this type would result in self sufficiency of the farmers. Each family would be able to live comfortably while community co-operation and participation are the main elements for success.
3. The main objective is to produce enough rice for the family to consume all year.
However, His Majesty made an emphasis that management of this kind must be gradually done and should never rush into it. An immediate problem arising from digging a pond on farmland is a large quantity of earth left around which amount from 10,000 m3 to 19,000 m3. His Majesty has suggested the farmer to use this surplus to build a dike around the pond and construct the cultivation rows for vegetables or fruit trees. To make it easier for the farmers to use the "New Theory", step-by-step procedure is formulated.
FIRST STEP : NEW THEORY
1. This is the formulation for a small-scale farm of about 15 rai.
2. The most important objective is enable the farmers to be self-sufficient while creating unity and fostering harmony in the community.
3. Assuming that one family is cultivating 5 rai of paddy field, there would be enough rice to consume for the whole year.
4. Each farm (15 rai) is divided into 4 parts:
-Paddy field (5 rai )5. The average of water vaporization in the dry season (~300 days) is 1 cm/day. 3 meter deep of the water in the pond is lost which is amounted to 15,250 of the 19,000 m3 . The remaining 3,750 m3 of water is not enough for cultivation and refillment is needed.
-Field crops or fruit trees (5 rai )
-Farm pond (3 rai) . The 1,000 m3 of water is needed for 1 rai of cultivated land. Each farm must have10,000 m3 of water annually for 5 rai of paddy field and 5 rai of field crops or fruit trees.
A pond with 4 meters deep on the 3 rai area is capable to hold 19,000 m3 of water.
-Residential area (2 rai)
6. It is necessary to have a large reservoir for water refill. One experimental reservoir at Wat Mongkol Chai Pattana with the capacity to hold 800,000 m3 of water is enough to supply 3,000 rai of farm area.
7. A large reservoir (800,000 m3 ) alone without the supplement of small ponds would provide water for only 800 rai. The complementary use of large reservoir and small ponds will compensate the need of annual requirement of water.
8. One big problem is the high investment cost to build a large reservoir. Funding from the government, private sectors, and foundations is necessary. The operation cost, however, is low and the farmers would be able to manage by themselves.
STEP TWO : NEW THEORY
A group of farmers should work together to form a co-operative for the following operations:
1. Production (plant strains, land preparation, irrigation, etc.)STEP THREE : NEW THEORY
2. Marketing ( harvesting plain, storage, mill, sale)
3. Living necessity (food, clothing, etc.)
4. Welfare (health, capital investment, loan)
5. Education ( school, scholarship)
6. Social and religion.
Help and contribution from the government, foundations, and private sectors are necessary to make it work.
The 6 operations in the second step could be achieved by requesting the assistance and co-operation from the funding institutes (bank), energy resources (gasoline company) to establish and operate the community mill (2), set up a co-operative store (1,3), find an investment capital (1,2), and develop a better living standard (4,5,6). Both farmers and private sectors would mutually benefit in the following manners:-
1. Farmers could sell their cultivation products (rice) at a reasonably high price.
2. The banks and the funding companies could buy the consuming products (rice) at the lower price (directly buy the grain from farmers to mill).
3. Farmers could buy the consumer products at a lower price (co-operative store at a wholesale price).
4. The banks and the funding companies could distribute their employees to the rural area and community.