THAILAND, May 12, 2017 (The financial Express): Thailand's king presided over an annual ceremony Friday marking the start of the rice-planting season. King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun sat quietly, his daughter at his side, as two oxen named "Increase" and "Abundance" ploughed a furrow around a section of the royal field in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. An official scattered rice seeds in the oxen's wake. The Brahmin rites, led by Hindu priests and the first to be presided over by Thailand's new king, were attended by the prime minister, Cabinet members and diplomats as well as farmers seeking signs of good fortune.
According to Thai historical accounts, the Royal ploughing Ceremony dates back around 700 years. Then as now, the success of the harvest is vital to the economy but also to the culture of the country. Thailand is one of the world's leading producers of the crop, at around 30 million tons a year. It is also, surprisingly, the world's second largest exporter of rice. It exports US$4.4 billion worth of rice a year, just behind number one India ($5.3 billion) and well ahead of number three, the US ($1.9 billion).