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          I am very pleased to be present today at 35th Japan -IRRI Day.
          Rice is consumed regularly by people in Asia, Europe, America or Africa but for Thais, it is more than just a side dish. Rice has been our staple food for a long time. There are evidences that in the area which is present day Thailand rice had been cultivated from antiquities. For example recently archaeologists found bricks of Dvaravati Period (around the 6
th century) covered with traces of shafts of glutinous rice. Thai people have been growing rice for hundreds of years but until the nineteenth century, mostly for domestic consumption, because rice was regarded as major war material prohibited from export except in years of exceptionally good harvests, and event for that there must be decrees permitting the export of surplus rice. As late as the reign of King Rama III in the first half of the nineteenth century we found decrees againt export of rice on the ground that the country must maintain sufficient rice reserve in case of wars. It was the desire to break into the Thai rice market that led the western countries to make consistent efforts in the early Ratanakosin or Bangkok Period to negotiate with the Thai Government to abolish monopoly and preventive measures and to allow free export and import of rice. Their efforts only succeeded in 1855 in the reign of King Mongkut with the signing of Bowring Treaty with Great Britain, other countries, and subsequently Japan. So it can be said that rice was the main factor in transforming Thai economy from subsistence to market economy.  To quote only a few statistics. starting from almost zero in 1855 the figures of rice export rose to 1.12 million tons in 1967 and reached the peak at 6.31 million tons in 1989.
          The export stimulus led to other developments. Expansion of cultivation area was encouraged through exemption of taxes during the first few years after bringing virgin lands under cultivation; improvement in irrigation and transportation; and measures to select and promote the best rice strains through contests, the first national contest being held in 1907. In 1916 the first rice experiment station was set up. At the world's Grain Contest in Regina, Canada in 1933, Thai rice made its name known in the world for the first time. Pinkaew and other local varieties won the first, second, third and eight other prizes out of 20 prizes given.



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