The last rice field on Phuket Island

130 rai paddy field in Moo 4, Maikhao Sub-district, Thalang District is the last area in Phuket where people earn their living with rice plantation. The pictures of farmers are struggling with the rice spike are rarely to be seen. They live a self-sufficient life initiating by His Majesty the King to retain a national heritage traditions and culture as well as to encourage the intellect and folk wisdom to continue here.

Previously numbers of rice field in Phuket can provide an adequate supply of rice within the province. But after an era of the tin mining, we entered to the tourism age, most paddy fields scattering throughout 3 districts changed hands and become resorts, hotels, and residential projects. There were less and less fields left until now we have this for last that left.

Former Governer Preecha Ruangchan, when he was here, together with other agencies and private sector, tried to preserve the land and promote it to be another attraction. Tourists will be able to experience rice cultivating the Thai way from the first step plowing to the milling. Now the villagers are grouping to cultivate rice and make it agrotourism.

The hidden side of Phuket has been revealed.


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    Despite being famous for sun, sand and sea, Phuket Island is also home to diversities in terms of culture plus traditional Thai careers, including farming. Just recently a group of villagers under official support revived rice farming in a learning center for younger generation to learn and appreciate the old way of life. Some foreigners including our reporter captured and experienced the harvest himself.

    Its four months since local farmers including our Thai reporter helped plant rice saplings in Mai Khao village of Phukets Thalang district. Now the 120 days golden Jasmin rice field signified its readiness to be harvested. Scythe is a vital tool for harvesting in Thailand. To promote the activity, the Phuket Governor Mr. Preecha Rungjan, who is from a farmers family, invited foreigners and residents to join with villagers to experience the rice harvesting themselves and catch some catfish in the muddy field for a fun contest. Participating foreign expat residents & tourist police volunteer Simon explained how he enjoyed the harvest and fish catching:

    An Italian woman resident & tourist police volunteer also felt the same enjoyment:

    After cutting the rice grass from the rice field, they are stacked in the sun and then smashed to get the grain before sending to the rice mill machine.
    This is the community rice mill machine which can handle 12 tons of rice per day.
    The produce is consumed locally and some for sale to generate local income. The rice bran and leftovers will be utilized for organic manure or animal feed. This is an example of how to apply HM the Kings sufficiency economy. Promchote Traivate, Chief of Phuket Tourism & Sports Office, said the activity not only promoted unity among villagers but also showed visitors Thai traditional way of life:

    Preecha Rungjan, Phuket Governor, expects that the reviving of rice farming in Mai Khao of Phuket will at least help educate young people about the food they consume everyday. More over he expects the location and activity can be promoted as agro-tourism on a tourist resort island like Phuket.

    The rice farming had vanished from this village over 10 years ago and now realizes the value of the old tradition in the wake of the global economy crisis when people tend to come back to the original idea in reducing global warming trends, so the 20 rai plots here are designated as learning centres to educate young people. Being a resort island, the plot can also be an attraction for Phuket visitors who wish to learn local lifestyle as well. (9th December 2008)


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