Thailand was considered to be a major illicit drug (Opium) producing country in the Golden Triangle during the 1960s. However, His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej initiated the “Royal Project” in 1969 and advocated the integration of ethnic minorities into the mainstream of the Thai Nation. Over 12 major internationally donors assisted projects followed during the 1980s, including the Thai-German Highland Development Programme (TG-HDP) for 18 years (1981-1998).
Based on a holistic approach (development in agriculture, public health, education, community development and women’s development), the TG-HDP was jointly executed by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft f?r Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) in cooperation with over 20 implementing agencies from five Royal Thai Government ministries, non-government organizations and the private sector.
Project activities covered three pilot areas: Wawi in Chiang Rai (1982 – 1994), Nam Lang (1984 – 1998) and Huai Poo Ling (1991-1998) in Mae Hong Son of approximately 1,500 square km in two provinces, and including 199 villages and over 40,000 people.
In combination with the efforts of other projects assisted by international donors the TG-HDP contributed to a significant decline in opium poppy cultivation in the region. Opium production in Thailand fell from some 9,000 ha in 1980 to less than 1,000 ha in 1990. Since then, it has been fluctuating at around 400 to 900 ha annually.