On 17 February 2022, at 8:30am, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited the Tea Oil Crops Research and Development Project in Thoet Thai Sub-district, Mae Fah Luang District, Chiang Rai Province. On hand to welcome the Princess were Mr. Phassakorn Boonyalak, Governor of Chiang Rai Province; Mr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, Secretary-General of Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage; and M.L. Dispanadda Diskul, CEO of Mae Fah Luang Foundation.
Mr. Boonchob Suthamanuswong, Manager of the Tea Oil Project, delivered a report on the project’s operations for 2021. The project yielded 123 tons of tea oil earning a total income of over three million baht for the villagers. This was the result of improving the variety and increasing the output of 41,703 trees, as well as grafting tea oil trees for farmers in 671 plots. Then Mr. Wongsakorn Chemeu, one of the project’s model farmers, delivered his report on how he improved his tea oil crop culture methods and knowledge-sharing with other farmers.
Mae Fah Luang Foundation has been operating the tea oil project in conjunction with the Chaipattana Foundation since 2006 in response to the royal initiative of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who saw the commercial potential of tea oil crops that could provide a stable and long-term income for villagers. The project acquired tea oil tree seeds and saplings from China which were planted on an experimental basis in two areas with degraded forests in Chiang Rai—Pang Mahan and Puna villages in Thoet Thai Sub-district, Mae Fah Luang District—totaling 3,417 rai. Today, the project has a total of 480,263 tea oil trees.
Mae Fah Luang Foundation also promotes other livelihoods for the local communities including raising Meishan pigs, black bone chickens, and planting alternative crops such as Assam tea, chilis, and lemongrass in their cultivation areas.
At 9:25am, the Princess arrived at Phya Phrai Traimitr School, where Ms. Narumol Suthum, Mae Fah Luang Foundation’s Community Relations officer, delivered a report on the operations of the promotion and development of community handicrafts activities for the year 2021. A total of 27 local villagers attended the skills training workshop, and over 14,000 handicraft items were produced, earning a total of 140,000 baht. The Princess then viewed samples of handicrafts by the villagers of Ban Huai Uen and Ban Mae Kham Noi villages who were on hand to greet the Princess.
At 10:10am, the Princess arrived at the Tea Oil Crop Research and Development Project office in Pang Mahan, where she watered and fertilized the tea oil tree that she grafted on 15 February 2018. The Princess then planted a red tea-oil camellia and a tea oil tree from Guangxi autonomous region in China.
Mr. Boonchob Suthamanuswong, Manager of the Tea Oil Project, and Mr. Thiraphan Tothirakul, Manager of the Plant Research and Development Division, Mae Fah Luang Foundation, delivered a report on the progress of the red tea oil camellias crops, and the research conducted on each variety. Mr. Ja-Er Sae Hu, one of the model farmers in the Tea Oil Project, also delivered a report on his improved tea oil crop cultivation methods.
At 1:45pm, the Princess arrived at Ban Pa Sang Na Ngern School, Ban Pa Sang Na Ngern Village, Mae Fah Luang Sub-district, Mae Fah Luang District, where she was welcomed by Thanphuying Putrie Viravaidya, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mae Fah Luang Foundation; Mr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, Secretary-General; and Khunying Puangroi Diskul na Ayudhaya, member of the board. The Princess chaired a meeting for the School Development Project in the vicinity of Doi Tung Development Project and outreach areas in Mae Fah Luang District for the academic year 2021. Operation results for 2021 covered the following topics:
- Progress of the Montessori teaching approach in early childhood education level.
- Progress of Thai language classes for children whose first language is not Thai in 36 schools in the Doi Tung Development Project area and outreach areas in Mae Fah Luang District, as well as the implementation of a curriculum that caters to the diverse needs of the local children in conjunction with St Andrew’s International School
- Progress of Thai language reading classes in conjunction with the Sirindhorn Thai Language Institute, Chulalongkorn University, for Prathom 4-6 levels
- Progress of the basic vocational skills training for Mathayom level pupils.
Furthermore, the Princess was briefed on the results of research and assessment of children with learning disabilities in Mae Fah Luang District, as well as the integration of 5G technology at knowledge centers in conjunction with True Corporation Public Company Limited.
The Princess then observed the work of pupils under the Project-Based Learning approach, the Zero Waste project at Ban Kha Yang Pattana School which received third prize in the 2021 National Zero Waste Community Project, the exhibition by the basic agriculture, food and handicraft vocational training workshops, Thai language teaching demonstrations for Prathom 1-3 pupils who have difficulty learning the Thai language, and demonstrations on the Thai language syllabus for Prathom 4-6.