BCG-Naga Belt Road is a project initiated under the Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) agenda by BIOTEC-NSTDA, representing a quick win of BCG Agriculture sector. The project is a collaboration among various agencies, including Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Kasetsart University, Chulalongkorn University, Udon Thani Rajabhat University, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), Siam Kubota Corporation Company Limited, KasetInno Company Limited, and local administrative offices and organizations. BCG-Naga Belt Road focuses on an integrated value creation from glutinous rice production to product innovation, creative economy and tourism, leading to improved income and better livelihood for glutinous rice farmers and enterprises in the production chain.
Dr. Theerayut Toojinda, BIOTEC Deputy Executive Director and Secretary of BCG Agriculture Subcommittee, revealed that the pilot project has been launched in four provinces, namely Lampang, Chiang Rai, Udon Thani and Nakhon Phanom and consists of four work programs: 1) technology transfer and farmer upskilling, 2) food processing and agricultural by-product upcycling, 3) creative economy based on cultural heritage and resources related to glutinous rice, and 4) productivity and income improvement with digital technology.
Under the creative economy work program, a study has been conducted by Dr. Archana Duangpaeng from Udon Thani Rajabhat University, in collaboration with Dr. Kanyarat Sirithunya and Dr. Suraphon Chaiwongsa from Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, to establish a database containing information on culture, traditional knowledge and products relating to glutinous rice as a foundation for tourism development.
Glutinous rice cultural road has been created in Udon Thani, consisting of the following attractions: Red Lotus Lake, Wat Hai Sok, Wat Suwannaree, Kham Chanod Forest, Phu Phrabat Historical Park, Wat Pa Bo Ngim, Huai Luang Reservoir, Phu Foi Lom and Tha Li Stone Bridge. Based on this cultural road, two eco-tourism community enterprises have been established, one in Chiang Da subdistrict and other in Chiang Wae subdistrict.
In Chiang Da, solar-powered floating raft house homestay and scenery raft cruise in Nam Phan Reservoir offer an eco-tourism experience. The area also doubles as a learning center for organic farming, glutinous rice cultivation, rice seed production and rice processing. Chiang Wae is famous for Red Lotus Lake. The freshwater lake is covered with the blooming of thousands of pink lotus flowers from December to February. The area is surrounded by accommodations, restaurants and souvenir shops to serve tourists. It is also a site of rice seed production community and rice processing.
The above eco-tourism villages are just an example of BCG-NAGA Belt Road outputs in Udon Thani. They serve as a model for other sites to develop eco-tourism based on cultural heritage unique to the area and to support a grassroots economy.