The late King Rama IX’s statement, “the work here truly benefits the people so please carry on. Invite fellow professors to join and deliver results to our people”, is the foundation of the Royal-initiated Fruit and Flower Propagation Development Service Centre at Ban Rai, operated under the supervision of Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University, which studies and develop different varieties of flowers, particularly the Curcuma species. Varieties with distinctive physical characteristics from all over the country were selected to produce the best hybrid, the Siam tulip, which is now an important economic cut flower for export.
To achieve such objective in producing beautiful varieties of flowers, the Development Service Centre has conducted continuous research and reproduction experiments on native flowers. The result is the hybrid of two Curcuma species, Pathumma and Kra Jiew, whose flower is large, attractive and vibrant with a three times longer life span. It has been registered in the Royal Thai series on the protected list. The Thai Garnet variety, for instance, won an Outstanding Award at a world horticultural exhibition in 2009. The Great King and Great Reign varieties have also been exhibited in international exhibitions and received many interests. At present, the Siam tulip is the second most exported flower, after orchids. Furthermore, the bulbs are in high demand among European countries, mainly the Netherlands, as well as the US, for large-scale plantation. Apart from the local plants, the Centre has also selected suitable overseas varieties and made adaptations, for example, Gladiolus and Amaryllis, which can now be grown all over the country. Locals and agricultural groups in Chiang Mai, Phayao, Nakhon Nayok, Chachoengsao, Yala and Narathiwat have expressed their interests in making these flowers their sources of income, both main and supplementary. In 2020, the total income generated by the flower sector amounts to 18,590,214 baht.
Striving to continue His Late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s legacy, the Royal-initiated Fruit and Flower Propagation Development Service Centre’s prioritises self-dependency and thus, aims to encourage interested agricultural producers to receive training and career development to enhance their incomes and opportunities for both domestic and international markets. Ultimately, they can achieve a secure and sustainable quality of life.