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Khok Nong Na Model: King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Vision for Sustainable Agriculture and Community Empowerment

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The Khok Nong Na Model (“Mound, Marsh, and Rice Field”) is a groundbreaking agricultural model spearheaded by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua. This innovative model blends sustainable economic principles with the aim of enhancing the people’s happiness. Under this model, farmers are encouraged to allocate their land into equal segments for cultivating plants, constructing a pond, and building a home.

Last year, in celebration of the King’s 71st birthday, the Bangkok Post delved into the significance and principles of the Khok Nong Na Model by speaking with former agriculture and cooperatives minister Wiwat Salyakamthorn. He currently serves as the chairman of the Sufficiency Economy Institute and founded the Agri-Nature Foundation, positioning him as one of the primary proponents of the model.

The model was initially depicted in a drawing by His Majesty the King and is part of his broader intent to honor the legacy of his late father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great. Mr. Wiwat, affectionately known as Ajarn Yak, has been instrumental in the evolution of this model. Since 1981, he has collaborated with King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great on earlier versions before adapting the current iteration with King Rama X. Ajarn Yak’s involvement commenced in 2020 when he became one of the instructional figures at Rong Rien Jitarsa (“Royal Thai Volunteers’ School”).

According to Mr. Wiwat, anyone wishing to teach at the Royal Thai Volunteers’ School had to submit applications to the school’s secretariat. He was personally chosen by His Majesty to impart agricultural knowledge to royal volunteers. “I didn’t think I would get the opportunity to work with His Majesty, who is a progressive and thoughtful person who used his pilot’s mind to look for well-rounded solutions to problems,” Mr. Wiwat remarked.

The Royal Volunteer School was His Majesty’s brainchild, designed to empower citizens who wish to give back to the community by honing their skills. Those with an interest in the Khok Nong Na Model are welcome to join the school. The first three cohorts of students, some of whom were royal aides-de-camp, trained on the model at the 200-rai Khok Nong Na ranch, situated within the 11th Infantry Regiment base. This ranch was transformed into a training hub, inspired by the Mab-Euang Agriculture Centre in Chon Buri’s Ban Bung district.

The Agri-Nature Foundation initially conducted five 14-day courses, accommodating a total of 2,500 participants. This initiative was aligned with His Majesty’s vision of promoting practical public service that addresses the immediate needs of the populace. Mr. Wiwat emphasized that volunteers not only learn about the Khok Nong Na model but are also motivated to perform good deeds for the country. “His Majesty is keen to develop the country through human resource development,” he added.

The Department of Corrections was the first entity to adopt the model in September of the same year, involving 80 inmates at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in the initial rollout. The programme soon expanded to other correctional facilities, aiming to equip prisoners with self-sustaining skills post-release. The inaugural phase included 80 inmates at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution, among whom 27 were foreigners, set to be released by royal pardon in 2020. The program later extended to Klong Prem Central Prison and subsequently to 137 prisons nationwide.

Mr. Wiwat’s training sessions featured art therapy, allowing inmates to engage with clay before transitioning to practical agricultural training, where each participant spent 7-10 days learning to manage crops. In 2020, the programme saw participation from 100,000 inmates, reducing the recidivism rate to less than 6% from the previous 16%, a clear testament to its success.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn funded the project personally, investing over 89 million baht in 2020 to support the courses. Mr. Wiwat clarified that the Khok Nong Na model was not created to cultivate gratitude towards the royal family but to empower participants to apply this knowledge in their communities. “His Majesty urged the public not to be jealous of others. He wants everyone, including royal family members, to become a role model for others, which is why he became involved with the model,” Mr. Wiwat elaborated.


  1. Anna S. July 9, 2024

    This is an excellent initiative! King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s vision is both innovative and compassionate.

    • Paul July 9, 2024

      I’m not so sure. Sounds like a PR stunt to me. Royals always seem to have ulterior motives.

      • Linda K. July 9, 2024

        You always have to consider the bigger picture. Even if there are ulterior motives, if the program genuinely helps people, isn’t that what matters?

      • Anna S. July 9, 2024

        Exactly, Linda. The reduction in recidivism alone is worth recognizing. Real lives are being changed here.

      • Paul July 9, 2024

        Okay, but how sustainable is it? Once the funding dries up, will the inmates or farmers be able to continue on their own?

  2. Grower147 July 9, 2024

    This Khok Nong Na thing is just unrealistic. Farmers in rural areas don’t have the resources to segment their land like that.

    • Maya L. July 9, 2024

      Maybe they don’t now, but this model is aspirational. It could encourage better community and governmental support in the future.

    • Jane July 9, 2024

      Not to mention that it’s being funded! Rural farmers will get resources and training to help them start.

    • Grower147 July 9, 2024

      Funding is often temporary. What happens when the royal focus shifts to another project?

  3. Alex July 9, 2024

    The idea of combining agriculture with rehabilitation is intriguing. More countries should look at similar models.

    • Nicole P. July 9, 2024

      True, Alex. However, adapting such models to different sociopolitical landscapes isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    • Alex July 9, 2024

      Agreed, but it’s about starting somewhere. Any step towards sustainable agriculture and rehabilitation is positive.

  4. Ezra July 9, 2024

    What about the climate impact? Segregated farming might cause more problems than it solves.

    • DrGreen69 July 9, 2024

      Valid concern, Ezra. But with proper care and planning, sustainable agriculture can actually help mitigate climate issues.

  5. Patricia J. July 9, 2024

    It’s heartening to see initiatives like this. Agriculture is the backbone of many economies and needs innovation.

  6. Tom July 9, 2024

    Don’t forget that this model isn’t entirely new. It’s just a revamped version of King Bhumibol’s principles.

  7. Sara_L July 9, 2024

    I personally think it’s great that the royals themselves are getting involved. It sets a good example for the rest of the country.

  8. Jason July 9, 2024

    While the model is ambitious, I can’t help but wonder about the long-term impacts. Who evaluates these programs a few years down the line?

    • Bill W. July 9, 2024

      Good point, Jason. Continuous assessment and adaptation are crucial for the longevity of such initiatives.

  9. Thinker31 July 9, 2024

    The fact that inmates are benefiting from this model is incredible! Reducing recidivism means safer communities.

    • Mark D. July 10, 2024

      Absolutely. It’s rare to see such integrative programs. I hope other institutions take note.

  10. Micheal S. July 10, 2024

    I’m skeptical. Monarchies rarely do things selflessly, and it’s hard to take this initiative at face value.

  11. Katie Green July 10, 2024

    I attended one of these courses, and they genuinely focus on empowering participants. The hands-on approach is remarkable.

  12. LivingOffLand July 10, 2024

    As a farmer, I can say that such models have immense potential if implemented correctly.

  13. Evelyn July 10, 2024

    It would be nice to see more transparency around the funding and long-term goals of these initiatives.

  14. John Doe July 10, 2024

    This model looks good on paper, but the real test will be its practical application over a sustained period.

  15. Lily July 10, 2024

    Empowerment through education and practical skills is the key theme here. It’s refreshing to see such forward-thinking models.

  16. NatureLover July 10, 2024

    I’m really curious about the environmental implications. Sustainable agriculture could play a big role in combating climate change.

  17. David S. July 10, 2024

    The fact that King Maha Vajiralongkorn funded this personally speaks volumes about his commitment.

  18. Elena July 10, 2024

    With ongoing support and adaptation, this model could inspire many other nations to rethink their approach to agriculture and rehabilitation.

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