In the 1950s, hill tribe farming shifted to narcotic plant cultivation, and as a result many hill tribe people were migrating as seasonal workers. This shift caused many problems, including the degradation of natural resources, and poor quality of life because of an increase in drug use and variable overpopulation. Moreover, because these problems are not specific to this region, sustainable solutions should start from the source of the problems.
During His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s visits to various provinces in Thailand, he recommended hill tribe people replace narcotic plants with winter crops of fruit and vegetables. If this recommendation is followed, hill tribe people could become more self-reliant and prosper from a more stable income from their agricultural products. By using this plan, the need to migrate to different places was eliminated. This ended the problems of shifting cultivation and narcotic plant cultivation.
During this period of hill tribe migration, it was difficult to conduct population census surveys and prove ID cards to document nationality. Therefore in 1963, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, created commemorative coins and granted them to hill tribe people on the occasion of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 3th cycle birthday anniversary. Crucially, these coins were given only to those who stopped growing narcotic plants. These coins had different numbers for each individual, and therefore could be used as an ID card proving Thai citizenship.
After these coins were distributed, a population census survey was conducted so that the majority of hill tribe people in Thailand were registered as Thai nationals. While the importance of these coins for hill tribe people has decreased, the coins’ value increased in historical significance, as they have gradually become important objects future generations can use to study past events.