Background of the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation
Background and Foundation
Before expressing an idea “making cloud coalesced and becoming rainfall” to M.R. Debbrihi Devakul, an expert in agricultural engineering, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej had devoted himself for fourteen years to the research and experiment concerning inventions for weather modification until there was the real possibility to conduct the actual trials in the sky.
In 1969, Royal Rainmaking Operation Group was the only integrated and specified study and trial group which was supported by the office of the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, with personnel from the Agricultural Relations Division,
a partial budget from the Rice Department, aircrafts and pilots from Insecticide Aviation Section and Agricultural Engineering Group. Included were academicians from various fields as agriculture, farm mechanics, mechanical engineers who were graduated from high vocational school. By use of the existing budget and equipment, supplemented by H. M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s private funds, the first trials in the sky took place during the 19th -20th July 1969.
From then, H. M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej had confidence in the office of the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to operate and fulfill his intentions in researching, experimenting, along with reducing drought problems
Royal Rainmaking Research and Development Institute, the first step to begin the “Fonluang” (Royal Rainmaking) Insignia for the “For-Lor Office”
In 1975, the government realized that the importance of Royal Rainmaking had kept growing, and petitions of rain making had increased in yearly. In order that the operation of the Royal Rainmaking could be widely and efficiently managed to help farmers, a Royal Decree was issued for the establishment of the Royal Rainmaking Research and Development Institute under the office of the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on 21st of September 1975.
At that time, the principle duties of Royal Rainmaking Research and Development Institute were as follows:
The Royal Rainmaking office was initially composed of four operating units. Only three small rooms at the Department of Agricultural Engineering were used as operation offices. The officers of the Department of Agricultural Engineering made and developed equipment to be used for rainmaking experiment. These included equipment such as a salt incubator, salt burn machine, salt grinder, etc.
The former Director-General, Mr.Warawut Khantiyanan, briefed on the working atmosphere of the Royal Rainmaking Research and Development Institute in 1977, when he entered government service stating that only four operation units were able to meet the petitions made by people to provincial governor.
“During that time, a severe and a mild drought each year occurred alternately. Consequently, drought condition enlarged; from 10-15 to 20-30-40 provinces each year. Sometimes, the requests for rain making were submitted by fifty provinces and they could not be handled by the existing operation units. It was a difficult time; the operators worked tiredly because after having finished an operation, they had to move immediately from one province to another. Caravan movements were to be completed within three days. They carried substances and equipment. When receiving orders, they traveled from Rayong Province, Chanthaburi Province to Surat Thani Province and had to set up the unit and fly on the third day.”
In 1977, the Royal Rainmaking operation was composed of four teams. Each team had three -four small aircrafts, and each aircraft consisted of three pilots and mechanics. There were
a total of six scientists. One scientist flew on each operational flight.
“The season of drought in each year was different. Sometimes, drought occurred in midyear, sometimes, at the end of a year. Nature was uncertain. We worked hard at the beginning of wet season rice cultivation during May to July. If rain was delayed, it created a crisis and a harder work load, flying two or three times every day. The radius of flight covered about four provinces.”
Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation
Aircraft played an important and essential role in Royal Rainmaking operations. Due to the increasing duties, two mutually supporting units were consolidated and promoted to the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation, under the Office of the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on the 15th September 1992.
One unit was the Aviation Section under the Agricultural Aviation Division which was responsible for all aircrafts. The other unit was the Royal Rainmaking Section under the Royal Rainmaking Operations Office which was responsible for Royal rainmaking.
The duties of the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation have increased. They also cover the following duties;
- Royal Rainmaking operations for farmers and people, water addition to reservoirs.
- Weather modification technology and other involved research and development branches.
- Aviation support for natural resources and environmental conservation, aviation service concerning agricultural operations and other governmental operations.
- Eight Royal Rainmaking Operation Centers were established to be responsible for the basins and covered twenty-five principle basins.
The former Director General recited the event when Royal Rainmaking Research and Development Institute had already become Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation, which had a total of six central units composed of aircrafts, a scientist team and officers, serving the petition for royal rainmaking.
“The requests for Royal Rainmaking of the old area were recurrent such as Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum in the northeastern, lower and upper North. In addition, it took a long time; (almost one month) for the request to arrive at the office. Then, we planned the approach strategy to operate annual rain making. When it was time, we started temporarily setting up the operation unit without receiving the petitions. After having finished the operation, we moved to another province. None of us had baggage. Instead, we used the sacks containing substances to pack clothes and got in a car to continue our duties.”
The next evolution in working, quoted from the former Director General was the division of responsible zones. However, the operators had to return to the central unit after completing their duties.
“The tents set up were not suitable for storing the substances, so we sought a permanent location and asked for the deserted building on the airfield. When it was time for operations, units went without baggage, as items were already placed. Since, the operators had only three months to take a rest, and the remaining nine months during which they operated continuously, we come up with an idea for establishing the regional centers which are now located at Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan, Khon Kaen, Rayong and Surat Thani.”
In 1992, the Office of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation had additional scientists and the work system was well-organized with modern technology. Government officials and officer positions increased from sixty personnel at the initial stage to almost five hundred personnel.
The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation
Two decades passed with many changes. Water demand increased, but drought and water deficiency became more severe. Then, the duties and roles of the Royal Rainmaking operation had to be expanded. The determination of policy, strategies and master plan in managing integral water resources of a national water resources plan was included in the responsibility. Then, the Office of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation gained the status of a department. The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation has been found on 24th January 2013.
Significant chronological stages in the development of the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation are as follows:
On the 21st of September 1975, a Royal Decree was issued for the establishment of the Royal Rainmaking Research and Development Institute, RRRDI to respond to H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s initiative. M.R. Debbrihi Devakul was a follower who received a Royal charge to study, conduct experiment and develop methods of weather modification for rainmaking effective in the year 1955.
On the 15th of September 1992, the Royal Rainmaking Research and Development Institute and Agricultural Aviation Department were unified into the Bureau of the Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation (BRRAA), which was responsible for operating Royal Rainmaking for agriculture and public use, adding water to reservoirs, researching and developing weather modification technology, serving the aviation for natural resources and environmental conservation, and for agricultural operations of other government sections.
On the 3rd of March 2011, the Thai Cabinet resolved to organize the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation and instructed the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to develop its government structure.
In 2013, the Cabinet resolution agreed to found the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation. Thus, on 24th January 2013, as announced in the Government Gazette, the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation was raised to the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation in accordance to the Act on the improvement of the Ministry, the Bureau, the Department (issue 10) B.E. 2556, aiming to expedite operations of the Royal Rainmaking Project, and to promote cooperation with the other government sections in response to the integrated duties.
Insignia and meaning