Curtailing drug plant growing by offering alternative livelihoods
Developing drug crop substitution
In 1969, Thailand's King set in motion the Royal Project in order to bring worthy livelihoods to northern Thailand's hill tribesmen, many of whom had turned to illegal growth of opium. Today, the Royal Project has successfully provided the hilltribe people with temperate-climate cash crops as a viable alternative to growing opium poppy. Indeed, opium cultivation has declined by 85% in the region, as farmers now grow vegetables, fruits, and coffee, among others. The Royal Project is supported by six mountain research stations, that test hundreds of temperate-climate vegetable and fruit trees for their potential as cash crops. Volunteers then introduce viable crops to villagers in demonstration centres throughout the highlands. The Royal Project then buys produce from hill farmers, and processes and packages them to be sold in the markets at a profit. Livestock have also been introduced. Infrastructure, education, medical services, canning plants, and marketing of produce have been or are still continuing to be supported or introduced into the region by the Royal Project. As of 1988, some 274 villages are covered by the Royal Project, comprising 10,695 families or 53,589 people. The Royal Project has benefited from international help.
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