A Puzzlement Within A Mystery

Commodity speculators seeking to diversify their “softs” portfolios beyond the usual trio of CSW (corn, soybeans & wheat) might benefit from the latest investment news from Thailand.  Crops estimates are forecasting a banner year for Thai harvest yields in the 2011 rice season.   So it might be a good idea do bulk up your short positions in Asian rice markets or build some fancy three-legged-straddle investment structures.

But wait –before you mortgage the bayou and phone your broker– there’s one slight catch.  The Thai rice crop prediction isn’t exactly USDA-grade information.  Instead …

Bountiful rice yields, an abundance of food, a fair amount of water and thriving foreign trade, were predicted for the coming crop year by soothsayers at the Royal Ploughing Ceremony at Sanam Luang yesterday.

The annual ceremony has been performed in Thailand for approximately 700 years to mark the beginning of the traditional rice planting season.  It is likely that this cultural practice was originally borrowed from China:  for centuries, emperors in China, Korea and Japan all performed similar ceremonies at the begininng of each growing season.   In the days of the god-king/emperor, this was of course a religious ceremony as well as a civic ritual.

On behalf of His Majesty the King, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the ceremony, accompanied by His Royal Consort HRH Princess Srirasm, and HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha.  Two sacred white oxen, named Phra Ko Fah and Phra Ko Sai, were taken to plough the ceremonial ground at Sanam Luang, herded by Agriculture and Cooperatives Permanent Secretary Chalermporn Pirunsarn in the role of Lord of the Plough.  Mr. Chalermporn was accompanied by four kuharb plough-assistants.
The kuharb thong (golden carrier) maidens were Duenpen Jaikong, of the Queen Sirikit Department of Sericulture, and Sornchanok Wongprom, an engineer attached to the Fisheries Department.  The kuharb ngern (silver carrier) maidens were Siriluck Somsakul, an accountancy specialist from the Royal Irrigation Department, and Jessadaporn Sathapattayanont, of the Agricultural Extension Department.

Okay, okay, but what about those predictions?

The oxen were offered seven dishes to eat: grass, paddy [rice], maize [corn], sesame seeds, soybean, water and liquor.   The oxen ate grass, which led to a forecast that the country would enjoy an average water supply, plentiful rice yields, and an abundance of fruits and staple foods this year.   The oxen also drank liquor, yielding a prediction that communications would be convenient, foreign trade would flourish and the economy would prosper.

Best news of all??  There’s an election coming up in Thailand.  All the candidates  –of whatever party–  can now safely run on a campaign platform of prosperity and plenty.


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