13 May 2015
The Thai government is scheduled to host Thailand Rice Convention 2015 from 19 and 21 May at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani, Exhibition and Convention Center Hall 4, Nonthaburi province.
Organized by the Department of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, the three-day event is intended to serve as a forum for players in rice trade to meet and exchange views, which will contribute to the development of the global rice industry. It will provide an opportunity for rice importers and exporters to hold trade negotiations, as well.
About 500 delegates from 40 countries worldwide are expected to participate in the convention. They comprise representatives from rice-producing and exporting countries, rice importers and traders, academics, and rice experts, as well as members of the Thai and international media.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the opening ceremony. A field trip will also be arranged, giving international delegates the opportunity to observe rice cultivation and production in Thailand.
The rice-planting season in Thailand usually starts in May, when the Royal Ploughing Ceremony takes place and paddy land is prepared for rice cultivation. Regarded as a ceremony to boost the morale of Thai farmers, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony signifies one of the prominent traditional features of Thailand’s cultural identity.
It is held at the Sanam Luang ceremonial site in Bangkok each year. Thailand has conducted the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony since the Sukhothai period, more than 700 years ago. The organizing of the full-scale ceremony was abandoned after 1936, but in 1960, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej suggested the re-introduction of the Ploughing Ceremony.
In the ceremony, the Lord of the Harvest, who is a high-ranking official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, leads the procession of the "celestial maidens” and a pair of oxen, while circumambulating across the symbolic ground. Walking along the plough are also white-clad Brahmans blowing conch shells. The Lord of the Harvest selects one of three pieces of scarlet cloth of varying lengths. His choice predicts the amount of rainfall for the coming planting season. Then the seeds blessed earlier are cast into furrows, from where they are gathered by farmers, who regard them as auspicious and keep them to mix with seeds to be used in cultivating their own fields.
When the ploughing is over, the oxen are presented with seven offerings, namely paddy, hay, corn, sesame, mung bean, water, and liquor. The animals’ first choices serve as means to predict the harvest of the upcoming season.
The staple food of the Thai people, rice has always been the most important crop and is grown in every region of Thailand. Its importance is not only in terms of economic value. Farmers regard growing rice as their food security.