Monday, November 30, 2020

The sweetest truth

Nov 28. 2019
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By The Nation

Up in the Northern province of Phayao, a well-tended vineyard called Baan Suan Dok is yielding some of sweetest seedless grapes in the country and drawing visitors from near and far to taste the fruit and relax in the charming surroundings.

The grower is the province’s former ex-deputy governor Wiradej Somwan and he credits the health of his luscious fruit to the sufficiency philosophy of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great (King Rama IX), which he studied in depth along with his wife to make his dream of growing grapes when he retired come true.

The Sufficiency Economy is a philosophy based on the fundamental principle of Thai culture. It is a method of development that uses knowledge and virtue as guidelines in living. Significantly, there must be intelligence and perseverance which will lead to real happiness in leading one’s life. The philosophy is built on three pillars of the philosophy

- Moderation: Sufficiency at a level of not doing something too little or too much at the expense of oneself or others.

- Reasonableness: The decision concerning the level of sufficiency must be made rationally with consideration of the factors involved and careful anticipation of the outcomes that may be expected from such action.

- Risk Management: The preparation to cope with the likely impact and changes in various aspects by considering the probability of future situations.

Most Thais associate the Sufficiency Economy with the New Theory, which applies the philosophy to the agricultural sector. King Bhumibol initiated this theory to help Thai farmers suffering from the impacts of economic crisis, natural disasters and other unproductive natural conditions. He believed that if the farmers acted with due consideration based on knowledge of past price fluctuations of agricultural commodities, they would understand how risky it is to concentrate all one’s resources in such commodities and expect large profits. And if they adopted the principle of self-immunity, they would prepare for price changes in the market by producing enough to eat as a priority and only then think of selling any surplus.

Wiradej said that during his years of government service, he servedas a sheriff in many areas of the northern region. During his posting to Samoeng, Chiang Mai, he went to the Pangda Royal Project and witnessed the growing of seedless grapes. He made the decision there and then that when he retired, he would tend a small vineyard to welcome friends to chat with each other. And when he retired from his last position as Permanent Secretary of Lampang Province, he went ahead with his plan.

The grapes, the seedlings for which came from the Pangda Royal Project, are called “Beauty seedless” and are oval, medium-sized and a rich purple-black. They grow in large bunches and are tasty, sweet and crispy. In his first season, he planted only 15 plants, but the result was better than expected so he added a further 6 though no more because grapes are fruits that need special care. He wants to put his best efforts into his vineyard even though he was not growing for profit but to relax, get some exercise, and live a happy life welcoming friends and visitors to chat and exchange views and life experiences. Word spread and today tourists stop off at Baan Suan Dok almost every day to explore, buy some grapes and chat. But the vineyard is not just a tourist attraction, it is also a learning centre for anyone interested in finding out more about grapes and the late King’s philosophy.

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