Progress in all countries, particularly the less developed,
depends substantially upon examples set by traditional leaders; unless they show the way,
change by ordinary farmers becomes doubly difficult. So often in Asia hereditary elite are
content with the old order or simply leave the land to join the new urbanites. Mom Chao
SITHIPORN, instead, chose to leave high position, devoting his life and fortune to
introducing agricultural methods new to the then Kingdom of Siam.
A grandson of King Mongkut and nephew of King Chulalongkorn, Mom Chao SITHIPORN grew up
at a time when these vigorous monarchs were opening Thailand to foreign contact. Sent to
England for schooling, he studied engineering. Upon return to Bangkok he first engaged in
private business and later joined the civil service, rising in 13 years to the highest
To relieve the routine of his official position he began to study agriculture.
Increasingly convinced that other crops than rice should be encouraged, he decided to
engage in farming. Also, he had married a noble lady reared in the Royal Household and
felt her frail health could only be remedied by life in the open. Family opposition was
overcome when his cousin, King Vajiravadh, gave the couple permission to leave and make
their own life.
At Bangberd, some 400 kilometers south of Bangkok, Mom Chao SITHIPORN in 1921 acquired
40 hectares of uncultivated upland and set out to prove with scientific management that a
farm could be both a place to produce and to live. Contouring, terracing, and green
manuring of fields and interplanting of crops were first seen in Thailand on his farm.
Watermelons, flue-cured Virginia tobacco and improved cornnow Thailand's third
largest exportwere among the new crops he promoted, demonstrating use of fertilizer
and insecticides. The earliest Thai advocate of diversified farming, he was the first to
breed and sell purebred swine and, with imported strains of high-yielding layers, to set
up a commercial poultry operation. In his garden were vegetablc-s uncommon to his country.
His wife applied modern methods of preserving food. On no Thai farm before had records and
cost accounts been kept. Experimenting with Thailand's first tractor and many other
laborsaving devices, he was his own mechanic.
Educator and researcher more than simple farmer, he helped neighbors follow his
practices and offered his seeds. Young agriculturists in government became his ardent
admirers. To share more widely his findings he founded Kasikorn, still the only
agricultural journal in Thailand. Associates in this venture were graduates of the College
of Agriculture at Los Banos in the Philippines.
Recalled to Bangkok in 1932, Mom Chao SITHIPORN served briefly as Director General of
the Department of Agriculture. A lasting contribution was establishment of the first three
upland experiment stations. Deposed by the coup d'etat ending absolute monarchy and
imprisoned as a Royalist, he was incarcerated mainly on Taratao Island for 11 years. For
fellow inmates he gave lectures on upland farming which were later incorporated in a book.
Released near the end of World War II, he was elected to Parliament from his home province
and served as Minister of Agriculture for a short period until he was again deposed by a
coup. A notable achievement was his vigorous attack on rinderpest. As head of the Thai
delegation, he was elected Chairman of the FAO Rice Commission for three successive
His fortune exhausted but his spirit unbroken, Mom Chao SITHIPORN and his wife returned
to reopen their Bangberd farm. Finding it more than they could manage, it was sold in 1960
and a two hectare plot purchased near Hua Hin. There the Prince continues to grow
vegetables, grapes and other fruits. Now 84 years of age, he maintains an active
correspondence with agriculturists. In articles to newspapers, he vigorously defends the
interests of Thai farmers, critically challenging government policies with the pragmatism
of a man who knows the soil.
In electing His Serene Highness, Prince SITHIPORN KRIDAKARA to receive the 1967 Ramon
Magsaysay Award for Public Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his nearly half a
century of pioneering experimentation and education devoted to advancement of Thai